Thursday’s opening leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year. For the best sports betting offers of March 2023, make sure you check out CasinoDaddy!
What players are in good shape? How are the teams arranged? Who will triumph? Here is all the information you want on the El Clasico on Thursday.
The defeat followed Manchester United’s relegation from the Europa League, and back-to-back losses have sparked some discussion at Camp Nou. Do they have enough depth in their team to win? Was the money that was spent at the beginning of the season appropriately invested? Meanwhile, they continue to be missing the crucial strikers Pedri and Dembele and have now also lost their leading scorer Robert Lewandowski to injury.
Yet, Barcelona has often been very steady at home and has significantly strengthened their defense. They still lead La Liga by seven points and have a cup final to contend for, but recent performances have been so dismal that there are questions before a match against a Madrid team famed for playing so well over two legs.
Xavi views himself as a challenge-loving individual. There aren’t many things larger for Barcelona than a three-game series versus Real Madrid, which will determine whether or not this will be his first complete season in command of the Blaugrana.
After a shaky January in the league, Madrid enters Thursday’s matchup in rather a decent form. Madrid is frequently far better at rolling with the punches than Barcelona. After the World Cup, they fell eight points behind Barcelona due to losses to Villarreal, Real Sociedad, and Mallorca. The margin is now seven points wide after only securing a draw against Atletico Madrid last weekend. Carlo Ancelotti’s team believes as though Barca’s loss to Almeria is a lifeline going into the league Clasico later this month.
Yet, the Champions League has once again given Madrid’s spirits a lift, and their resounding 5-2 victory over Liverpool at Anfield serves as a reminder of just how dangerous they are. Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. both played well in that contest and provide a significant danger to Barca’s strengthening backline. While Madrid’s injury woes have subsided elsewhere, David Alaba and Ferland Mendy’s injuries should force Nacho Fernandez to play left defense, while attacker Rodrygo Goes is a doubt.
They have the luxury of fielding Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric, and Karim Benzema, three players who were nominated to the FIFPro XI this week, and they have a strong midfield. Ancelotti, though, won’t take anything for granted. It hasn’t been more than a year since Barcelona’s 4-0 LaLiga victory at the Bernabeu, but the Supercopa loss in January still sticks in my mind.
Key Player to watch: Karim Benzema
Madrid was disappointed that the French international striker lost out to Argentina World Cup champion Lionel Messi for the FIFA award for The Best Men’s Player on Monday. There aren’t many better venues than a Clasico to address that disappointment, in a way.
Due to injury, Benzema’s season has not yet been as exciting as last year, but his statistics are still strong. In 25 games across all leagues, he has scored 18 goals and appears to be regaining his health just as Madrid needs him the most. He has scored five goals in his last four games, including one in each of his last two games against Barcelona. He is in terrific form and will try to benefit from Vinicius’s increased focus from defenders when these two sides face off.
2-1 for Real Madrid Barcelona: Madrid must make the most of their home matchup with a Barca team that is without several of their finest players. When the match returns to Camp Nou for the second leg in April, Barcelona needs to make sure they are still in it.3