The widely billed 'biggest match in the world' is set to pan out for the second time in five days, as Barcelona and Real Madrid clash at a neutral venue in the Copa del Rey final.
When the two battled in the La Liga during the weekend, it matched all expectations. The 1-1 draw included controversies, penalties and everything else one associates with either side, with quality spearheading the package. After a goalless first half, the game took off in the 53rd minute when Raul Albiol was red carded for Real for bring down David Villa in the box. Lionel Messi duly stepped up to score his first ever goal against a side managed by Jose Mourinho. Real rallied. And with 10 minutes left, they won a penalty of their own when Marcelo was brought down by Dani Alves. Cristiano Ronaldo stepped forward and made a strong case to be considered Messi's equal if not better by calmly slotting home.
However, since that match was just a test run for both teams (as Barcelona look to have the Spanish La Liga in the bag), it leads us to wonder what the Copa Del Rey final, at Valencia's Mestalla Stadium, will be like. The backdrop is laced with some extraordinary facts.
This will be the sixth time that an El Classico final decides the King's Cuo. Previously, the two met in 1936, 1968, 1974, 1983 and 1990. It's over two decades since they last battled it out in the Cup final. Barca last won the trophy two years ago, and as they have the most victories in the final, they are touted as favourites this time around. However, they could face a hungry Real Madrid who have, surprisingly, not won this competition since 1993.
It all makes for a mouth watering prospect. And with the two teams playing it out, it would be sacrilege to even consider doing anything else than watch the match!
Team News -
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Jose Pinto, who was between the posts for all King's Cup matches this season, will retain his place ahead of first-choice keeper Victor Valdes. The Catalans are also boosted by the news that skipper Carles Puyol will be fit for the tie, though it is not clear whether Guardiola will risk playing him.
Real Madrid are expected to make one change from the side that drew Barca in the weekend - Pepe might drop back into defence with Mesut Ozil taking his place back in the starting 11.
It'll take a brave man to predict this. Are you?