Barcelona coach admits that Real Madrid tie is a ‘Classico twice over’. Ernesto Valverde, has now stated that facing arch rivals, Real Madrid in a Copa Del Rey semi final makes the tie “classico twice over”. Madrid travel to Camp Nou in the first leg of the last four clashes against Barcelona, where they have been thrashed 5-1 earlier in the season. The age old rivals face each other three times within a month. With Copa Del Rey ties coming twice within two weeks, they again face each other on third march in a La Liga clash at Santiago Bernabeu. The other semi final in the Copa Del Rey is between Valencia and Real Betis.
Barcelona won the Copa Del Rey five consecutive time as Real were last victorious when Carlo Ancelotti’s side triumphed a 2-1 win over The Catalans. The Blaugrana are currently at the top of La Liga table with Real Madrid trailing by 10 points at third place. But Madrid are currently in good form under manager, Santiago Solari having won last five matches on a trot in all competitions while Barcelona registered yet another historic 6-1 win over Sevilla in the quarter finals before being held at Valencia at 2-2.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is set to start second succesive El Classico from the bench as he missed the 5-1 thrashing of Real Madrid earlier this season with an injury. However, Messi again injured himself in the thigh when he scored twice at Valencia’s 2-2 draw. He is replaced by Malcolm in the starting line up while midfield maestro Arthur, takes up the left side of the midfield. Real will be without the services of Welsh star, Gareth Bale, who starts from bench as Vincius Jr. and Lucas Vasquez starts alongside Karim Benzema in the front three.
“It is a Classico twice over. Of course it’s a special game; it is a semi-final against a very big team.” Valverde said in a press conference before the match. Valverde praises his team for their performance in the last El classico but remains cautious that they should not be overconfident about that instead concentrate on the present match. “When we prepare the game obviously we have the reference of the players and how they performed, but there was a different morale at that time, that counts for a lot.” Valverde also reminds of the fact that the Madrid they faced earlier are way lot different than what they are now. “Madrid tend to be very strong at Camp Nou, the last game we were strong and won clearly but they were in a delicate spot and they’re better now.”
A semi-final against Madrid adds to a complicated fixture list for Barca, but Valverde feels a busy schedule should not be used as an excuse for either side. In the end, Valverde admits that the fact that the two teams are in such great form at the moment is the reason why everyone should be looking forward to a top quality game.
The first leg at the Nou Camp ended in a 1-1 draw and the BArca boss will now be hoping that his team can put up a good fight at the Bernabeu. The tie is open for both sides and it will be interesting to see what happens now.