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Real Madrid vs Barcelona
Copa Del Rey 2018-19
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu
Kick-off: 8pm GMT

Real Madrid host Barcelona tonight in the first of two Clasicos taking place this week.

Spain’s arch-rivals meet in the second leg of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday with the tie poised at 1-1 following a draw at the Nou Camp at the start of February.

Barcelona crushed Los Blancos on their own turf back in September with a 5-1 La Liga defeat in Catalonia costing Julen Lopetegui his job.

Real were a much improved unit in this tie’s first leg a few weeks ago however with Lucas Vazquez giving them the lead before Malcom hit back with an equaliser.

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In front of their own supporters, Real will now be looking to end Barcelona’s dominance of this competition which stretches back to 2015.

Score prediction: Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona
Real Madrid followed up that 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp with a huge derby victory over Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.

In Pictures | Levante vs Real Madrid | 24/02/19

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A 2-1 defeat at home to Girona and a very unconvincing win away to Levante on Sunday have hardly been ideal preparation, however.

After an underwhelming February that saw Barcelona pick up just one win in five – that sole win a narrow one at home to Valladolid – Ernesto Valverde’s side ended the month in style against Sevilla on Saturday with Lionel Messi hitting the peaks that will once again make him the most dangerous man on the pitch on Wednesday.

Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior (L) vies with Barcelona’s Portuguese defender Nelson Semedo during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) semi-final first leg football match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 6, 2019. (Photo by Pau Barrena / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images)

Barcelona team news
Barcelona will be without midfielder Arthur for the second leg clash with Copa goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen also unavailable as he continues to recover from a calf injury.

Samuel Umtiti is back and 100 percent fit, according to his manager, after over three months out with a knee injury.

lionelmessi2302.jpg
(AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti)
Real Madrid team news
Los Blancos were without their skipper Sergio Ramos on Sunday as he served a one-match suspension but the Spaniard is certain to return to the starting XI midweek.

Isco, now a peripheral figure under Santiago Solari, remains unavailable due to a back issue.

Predicted line-ups
Real Madrid XI: Navas; Reguilon, Varane, Ramos, Carvajal; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos; Vinicius, Benzema, Lucas

Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Semedo; Busquets, Rakitic, Alena; Dembele, Suarez, Messi

Real Madrid vs Barcelona tickets
For ticket information click here to head to Real Madrid’s website.

realmadridvslevante19.jpg
(Getty Images)
Betting tips via Betfair | UK users only | Subject to change
Match odds (90 minutes only)

Real Madrid to win: 17/10
Barcelona to win: 29/20
Draw: 13/5
Click here to find the latest match odds and place a bet.

TV channel and live stream online coverage
UK based fans have been unable to watch the previous rounds of the competition, but streaming service Eleven Sports have acquired the rights to broadcast this, and the rest of the remaining Copa del Rey matches

Matches can be viewed either on an app (Android or iOS) or via the Eleven Sports website, www.elevensports.uk, although fans will need to sync their telephones, tablets or computers to a television in order to watch games on TV.

In Pictures | Sevilla vs Barcelona | 23/02/19

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Eleven Sports will also be showing the Spanish giants’ league clash on March 2, which means it is offering three El Clasicos at £5.99 a month now, with that price dropping to £4.99 on March 1.

Click here for more information.

You can also follow all the action on our LIVE blog with our Spanish correspondent Ben Hayward at Camp Nou.

Head to head record and history (h2h)
Real Madrid vs Barcelona | The history of El Clasico

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Barcelona and Real Madrid have played each other on 273 previous occasions across all competitions, with Barcelona leading the way with 113 victories compared to Real’s 99. There have been 61 draws.

Live Updates
1 hour ago
Gareth Bale stuck in Room 101 at Real Madrid as divorce draws closer

It has been an awkward marriage since the very beginning. Now, it looks like Gareth Bale is heading for a divorce in his sixth season at Real Madrid.

Brought in for a world-record fee in the summer of 2013 after Florentino Perez missed out on top target Neymar to Barcelona as the Madrid president was forced to pay more money than he wanted for the Welsh winger, Bale was severely questioned from day one.

Getty

Real claimed they had paid €91 million for Bale, that figure quoted to avoid bruising the ego of the world’s previously most-expensive player, Cristiano Ronaldo. But Bale cost €101m ( £86m) as Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy dug his heels in and drove a hard bargain.

He has never really been able to shake off that price tag, despite helping Madrid to four Champions League crowns and scoring three goals in European finals, including two last season. The outlay for his signing means he will always be compared to Ronaldo. Bale is the €101m man, with 101 goals for the club, and he is stuck in Room 101 at Real.

The two goals against Liverpool in the Champions League last May earned the winger a fresh chance after another difficult season. With no big-name signing in the summer to replace Ronaldo, many looked to the Welshman to step up and shine.

But it has not worked out that way. The 29-year-old has spent more time on the sidelines and although there have been some positives, like his hat-trick against Kashima Antlers in the Club World Cup and a goal in the Madrid derby earlier this month, both Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior have been more important in Real’s recent resurgence. Perhaps even Lucas Vazquez, too.

Against Levante on Sunday, Bale’s refusal to accept a congratulatory pat on the back from Lucas after he had scored from the penalty spot to secure a 2-1 win brought more vicious and vindictive reports from the Madrid media.

Late-night show El Chiringuito has routinely berated Bale, long calling for the winger to be sold. Host Josep Pedrerol ran an editorial last year in which he said: “Bale should be sold and he should be told: ‘thank you’. Because ‘gracias’, he would not understand.”

That was a reference to the fact that Bale still does not speak Spanish (publicly at least) after five and a half years in Madrid, something confirmed by Marcelo recently. “Kiko Casilla sat next to me [in the dressing room] and we used to talk all day, now I have nobody to talk to,” the Brazilian said in an interview with Esporte Interativo.

“Bale is now on that side but we have to speak in English, we communicate via gestures and with three words: hi, hello and goodbye.”

Thibaut Courtois also spoke about Bale in an interview with HLN. “I would say he has so much talent, but that it is such a shame that so often that talent is blocked from shining,” the Belgian said. “I live like somebody who is born and bred in Madrid. I eat late, I go bed late… it is their way of life,” he said.

Reuters

“The other night we had a dinner with the entire squad. But Bale and [Toni] Kroos did not turn up. They considered the dinner was too late at night. We had met up at 21:30 and started eating at 22:15. But Bale didn’t come. He told us he goes to bed at 23:00.”

Courtois also inadvertently let something else slip in that interview when he revealed that Bale’s nickname in the dressing room is “el golfista”. The golfer. And that has done the Welshman no favours at all.

Now the narrative on El Chringuito, where Pedrerol has close links to Madrid president Perez, is that Bale is only interested in golf. “He doesn’t like football”; “he was angry in Valencia because he wanted to watch the golf”; “he plays too much golf and it’s bad for his back”. And so on…

The same show zoomed in to Bale’s phone as he arrived at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium on Sunday and spotted that he was watching golf. From that, they concluded that he did not want to be there and was not interested in Real Madrid. Somehow, a sportsman watching another sport on his phone is now deemed controversial and unprofessional. Because it sells.

Reuters

And with no medical proof, the idea that the 29-year-old’s penchant for golf is bad for his back and means he spends more time on the treatment table is wild speculation. Firstly, they have no idea how often he plays and there was secondly, no professional consulted to back up such a claim.

Bale shaking off Lucas was a gesture which no Real fans will want to see, yet he is upset at how he — a very private person — has had to hear his team-mates talking about him in public. It is something he would never do and his reaction on Sunday was a result of all that. Bale is not a big talker, but he is hurt and perhaps his team-mates should listen.

Real coach Santiago Solari was asked six questions about the player in Tuesday’s pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s Clasico clash against Barcelona. “Bale is focused,” he said. “Just like the rest of his team-mates.”

Solari seemed surprised at the negativity in some of the questions, but for Bale it is nothing new. The winger will one day come back to Madrid as a legend. In time, he will be remembered as a true great, but he is being bullied out of the club and AS once again blamed the player in an article on Tuesday for “blocking” the signing of Kylian Mbappe in 2017.

With Eden Hazard keen on a move this summer and Madrid in need of some rebuilding, Bale looks set to leave at the end of his sixth season at the club. When he is gone — and especially when Los Blancos start struggling in Europe —, people might realise that, despite his injury problems, shyness, some language difficulties and a love for golf, he has actually been an extremely important and valuable player for Real Madrid.
3 hours ago
Santiago BernaLeo!

“Lionel Messi is incredible, but he doesn’t scare anybody,” said Real Madrid’s young winger Vinicius Junior on Sunday. And on Tuesday, ahead of his side’s Clasico clash against Barcelona, coach Santiago Solari was asked if he feared his compatriot. “That word,” he said, “doesn’t exist in football.”

Ask the fans, though, and they may have a different answer. Because Messi has dominated the Clasico in the last decade and the Argentine has saved some of his most memorable moments for games at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The forward’s first match at the Bernabeu was in a 3-0 win for Barcelona back in 2005 and even though he set up the first goal for Samuel Eto’o in an impressive display, that night is remembered for Ronaldinho’s remarkable display as the Brazilian earned an ovation from the home fans.

Getty

The Argentine later inherited his team-mate’s number 10 shirt and he has starred in the Clasico ever since. He is the top scorer in the famous fixture, with 26 goals, and 15 of those have come at the Bernabeu.

Standout moments include his brace as a false nine for the first time in the incredible 6-2 win for Pep Guardiola’s great side in 2009, a superb solo goal in the Champions League semi-final first leg in 2011, a hat-trick in a 4-3 victory in 2014 and his injury-time decider – and iconic celebration – in a 3-2 success in 2017.

No player from either side has scored as many Clasico goals at the Bernabeu and the Argentine also has nine assists at Real Madrid’s stadium.

Having netted in La Liga, in the Champions League and the Spanish Supercopa at the Bernabeu, Messi will now look to convert for the first time there in the Copa del Rey tonight.

“Messi, your garden awaits!” said Barcelona-based paper Sport on their front page today. As usual, their team’s hopes at the Bernabeu lie with the brilliant Argentine and Madrid’s gameplan, fear or not, will be all about stopping Leo.

4 hours ago
‘Controversy will always be tied to football’

It was put to the Barca boss that VAR could be a factor after Real Madrid’s fortuitous penalty at Levante on Sunday.

He said: “We’re relaxed in that respect. Controversy will always be tied to football and other sports, but we will try to win tomorrow and forget about the rest.

5 hours ago
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde is hoping to mark his 100th game in charge of the Catalan club with a win in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final second leg against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu as Arthur returns from injury for the Clasico clash.

Valverde took over in the summer of 2017 and steered the Blaugrana to La Liga and the Copa in his first season in charge, which had started with a 5-1 aggregate loss to Los Blancos in the Spanish Supercopa.

EPA

In La Liga, the former Athletic Club coach then led Barca to a 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in December that year, before a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou last May.

The two teams tied 1-1 in their Copa semi-final first leg earlier in February and a win or high score draw would see Barca through and keep the Catalans on target for an unprecedented fifth consecutive cup crown.

Asked about his 100th game in charge, Valverde said: “I would love to win, I won’t deny that. I didn’t know [it was my 100th game], but it’s an important game because it’s a semi-final, it’s a Clasico and we would like to go through.

“It will be complicated. We have a scoreline which is not the one we would want, but it’s an open game and the match is to be decided. We know the quality of our rival. It will be an attractive game for the fans.”

Barca have a very strong record at the Bernabeu in recent seasons, but Valverde said: “Past results don’t have any bearing on what will happen in future. The stats show how things have gone, but we are more concerned about how we can win tonight. And that depends on how we play, on our style, on the players who play for them…”
6 hours ago
Good morning and welcome to Standard Sport’s coverage of this evening Clasico clash in the Copa del Rey between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Photo: Getty Images

Kick-off at Santiago Bernabeu is at 8pm UK time. Stick will us as we build-up to the game throughout the day.
More about: | El Clasico | Lionel Messi | Gareth Bale | Luis Suarez | Copa del Rey
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