Once again, the two most prominent clubs in La Liga, and perhaps the world, face off as Barcelona host Real Madrid in the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday at Camp Nou.
Barcelona continue to dominate Real Madrid. In the first leg, Barcelona edged Real Madrid, 2-1, as the Catalans fought back after being down a goal to score twice in the second half at Santiago Bernabeu.
Though Cristiano Ronaldo found the back of the net for Los Galacticos, he was absent in the second half, as Real Madrid didn't appear to put up much of an attack. Barcelona had several chances, while Real Madrid failed to contain Barcelona's potent passing attack.
It was the second win for Barcelona over Real Madrid in recent weeks. On Dec. 10, Barcelona defeated Real Madrid, 3-1, after scoring three unanswered goals following a Karim Benzema goal in the first minute.
Now the rivalry has shifted back to Barcelona's home, making the challenge all the more difficult for Jose Mourinho's squad. Real Madrid will need to win 2-1 to force penalty kicks, or defeat Barcelona by a convincing score, to advance to the semi-finals of the tournament.
For Barcelona, a victory will be a momentum boost for the club. The Catalans trail Real Madrid in the standings by five points, and when the two teams meet again in April for a La Liga match, the league title might be on the line.
Wednesday's lineups will also be interesting. Sami Khedira and Angel di Maria are sidelined with injuries. Mourinho might sit Pepe after the centre back stomped on Lionel Messi's hand in the second half of the Jan. 18 match.
Barcelona has been struck with a number of injuries this season. Both David Villa and Pedro are out, which means Alexis Sanchez will have to step up in their absence. Barcelona will also be without Seydou Keita, who is still away at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations
Pep Guardiola rotates his goalkeepers in this competition, and this time Jose Manuel Pinto will be starting.
G: PintoD: Alves, Puyol, Pique, AbidalM: Xavi, Busquets, IniestaF: Messi, Cesc, Sanchez
G: CasillasD: Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, MarceloM: Xabi Alonso, Coentrao, Altintop, Ozil, RonaldoF: Benzema
PREDICTION: Barcelona has clearly been the better team this year, but Real Madrid goes into the match with nothing to lose. Los Galacticos know they are the underdog, so they should be very loose and relaxed for this contest. Expect the Real Madrid defense to push forward more this time around, and for Kaka to come off the bench and make a solid contribution. However, this game should be one-sided once again. Messi is due for a multiple-goal effort, and the Catalans should ease by Real Madrid at home.
PREDICTED SCORE: Barcelona over Real Madrid, 3-0