So, here's a good question. What happened last time Barcelona and Real Madrid last met? Well, when the teams last met in 2012, they battled it out to a ferocious 2-2 draw that saw Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo score two goals each.
Real Madrid and Barcelona were slated for a "Clasico matchup" in March, but fans will now get two matches, thanks to the Copa Del Rey semi-finals. There are a great deal of matchups that will have a tremendous influence on how Wednesday's tilt plays out, but none will be more essential than the strikers on each team.
Barcelona has the best player in the world playing at his highest level. Messi has now scored in 11 straight Spanish league matches. His 33 goals in just 21 games sets him on pace for 56 goals in the 2012-13 season; in 2011-12 he scored 50 times. He is coming off a four goal match against Osasuna and is in his best form heading into Wednesday's battle. Messi has scored 17 goals in all Clasico matches, one short of tying record holder Alfredo Di Stefano.
After Messi, Barcelona's strikers are an inconsistent group. Pedro and David Villa have only scored five goals this season while Alexis Sánchez has yet to register a single Spanish league goal.
Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets. These four players have been tremendous for Barcelona all season long and should be excited to take down Real Madrid. Fabregas has scored six times this season and leads the team with nine assists. More importantly, he has found some strong chemistry with Lionel Messi and will be the major x-factor in this match. However, Xavi and Iniesta are the motors for this team's possession game. Xavi has scored five and assisted on four this season while Iniesta has only tallied once but has eight assists.
Gerard Pique returns from suspension for Barcelona, who have a fully-fit squad at their disposal. Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas are all likely to be recalled to the starting XI after they were rested for the weekend victory over Osasuna.
Cristiano Ronaldo is always ready to do battle with Lionel Messi and his recent performance against Getafe clearly indicated his enthusiasm. Ronaldo broke out for three goals and has increased his seasonal total to 21; he is on pace to put up 36 goals this season. In 2013, Ronaldo has scored 10 goals in all competitions. He has 10 goals against Barcelona in his career, including three during Copa del Rey competitions.
Like Barcelona's supporting cast of strikers, Real Madrid features an inconsistent set as well. Gonzalo Higuain has scored once in his last seven starts for Real Madrid. Karim Benzema has been better with five goals in nine matches but has a tendency to disappear during matches.
Madrid's midfield has not been as potent as it was a season ago, but the offensive prowess has started to show up on a more consistent basis. Sami Khedira scored his only two goals of the 2012-13 season in the first two weeks of 2013 and the midfield has showcased a fluid counterattack. However Madrid's midfield will need more consistent efforts from Mesut Ozil and Luka Modric if the team hopes to take down Barcelona.
Iker Casillas (broken hand) and Pepe (ankle) are out, meaning Antonio Adan and new signing Diego Lopez battle it out in goal, while Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria all serve suspensions. However, Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to start despite hurting his ankle in Sunday's 4-0 win over Getafe.
Real Madrid: D/L/W/D/W/W
Barcelona: Pinto (GK); Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Iniesta
Real Madrid: Adan (GK); Arbeloa, Albiol, Varane, Marcelo; Khedira, Alonso; Ozil, Modric, Ronaldo; Benzema
Where And When
Location: Santiago Bernabeu (Madrid, Spain) Real Madrid's home
Check Local Times Here: http://www.livesoccertv.com/match/670912/real-madrid-vs-barcelona/
Barcelona 3-3 Real Madrid
This is a hard prediction to make since both of these teams are evenly matched with amazing skills in football. The real question is who the better striker is? It is pretty even. Messi and Ronaldo shine at the top of their games and should make this an entertaining game.
Make your predictions and have your say of who the better striker/team is in the comments below.