Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have the Champions League on their mind, but that is unlikely to mean that there will be any less commitment or intensity when the two sides meet for the second time in four days at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou secured a place in the Copa del Rey final at their bitter rivals’ expense and has got Los Blancos anticipating a memorable climax to the season after a dreadful league campaign. Despite sitting 16 points behind Barcelona in the Liga standings and with hopes long since gone of retaining their title, Kaka believes the league encounter is important to keep momentum going ahead of their crunch meeting with Manchester United next week.
“We can beat anyone anywhere and that gives us confidence,” the Brazilian said, according to Real Madrid’s official website. “Tuesday’s match gave us a lot of confidence, knowing that we can achieve our objectives anywhere. We are in the right sort of form to achieve it and we will see if we get even more confidence tomorrow.”
With Madrid tied at 1-1 with Manchester United ahead of the second-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, Kaka is likely to be one of several players that Jose Mourinho brings into the side on Saturday.
Barcelona have the luxury of 10 days before trying to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the second-leg of their Champions League tie with Milan and the Clasico perhaps has even more importance for the Blaugrana as they seek to return to form after a difficult recent run.
“Against Milan and Madrid we were not as inspired as usual, but that is no cause for pessimism,” assistant coach Jordi Roura said, according to Barcelona’s official website. “The team will go on and we’ll compete for everything. The players’ attitude and work ethic is as always admirable.”
Roura has hinted that a strong Barcelona side will be selected.
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Pepe, Albiol, Marcelo
M: Khedira, Essien
Callejon, Kaka, Ronaldo
D: Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Alba
Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta
F: Pedro, Messi, Villa
Prediction: Much could well depend on the lineup that Mourinho elects to field. It seems certain that he will rest some players, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s drive to play whenever possible will likely see the in-form Portuguese forward get the start. Ronaldo was the key player in Madrid’s win at Camp Nou and Barcelona have to do a better job of defending against their opponent’s lighting counter attacks.
Also key will be Barcelona’s ability to find a greater attacking rhythm and particularly redicover a reliable attacking threat alongside Lionel Messi. David Villa could well be the man to provide that and if he starts on Saturday then Barcelona could get an element of revenge for their Copa del Rey defeat.
Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona
Where to watch: The La Liga clash will kick-off at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.