Real Madrid – FC Barcelona: ‘Clásico’ per excellence
Madrid and Barça face each other yet again this evening, this time in the Champions League semi finals (20.45h CET). The two opposing styles are once again about to clash at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, with FC Barcelona missing the injured Iniesta.
Barcelona (FCB).- The Champions League is the biggest thing in club football and Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are about to go head-to-head in an intriguing battle to see which of the sides is going to Wembley. This is the third meeting between the Liga giants in just ten days. In the first, Barça consolidated their dominant position in the national championship, while in the second, Real Madrid won the Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) in extra time. The third and fourth encounters come in none other than the Champions League semi finals. Clásicos don\u2019t get much more classic than this.
Historic rivalry on the European stage
Barça are in the semi finals of this competition for the fourth time running after beating Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk in the previous knockout rounds. But the final challenge standing between them and the right to go to Wembley is their eternal rival, who they have already met in three previous European Cup encounters. Barça have gone through once (1961) and have been knocked out twice (1960 and 2002).
Nine years later, and the two sides are set to meet once again, and tonight\u2019s meeting will be their fourth this season. Apart from the two aforementioned meetings, there was also the famous 5-0 win for Barcelona in November. But the difference this time is that the winners will be decided over 180 minutes.
Concerns in defence and no Iniesta
For the first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu, Barça coach Pep Guardiola has picked 20 players, including Puyol and Milito. The late withdrawal of Iniesta with a calf injury makes him the fifth Barça player out of the game, alongside Bojan, Abidal, Adriano and Maxwell, whose absences mean there are plenty of doubts over what the Barça back four is going to look like. However, the attack row has a unique Leo Messi and an inspired David Villa, who scored again in the last League game and broke his two-month drought.
Whites on yellows
Real Madrid will seek to counter Barça\u2019s combination play with a more conservative and less aesthetic style, but one that has proven extremely effective of late. José Mourinho cannot field the suspended Carvalho nor the injured Khedira and Gago. He also has four key players that would miss the second leg if they were to be booked tonight: Cristiano Ronaldo, Di María, Sergio Ramos and Albiol.