Copa del Rey semi-final first leg

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi

Real Madrid's quest for the treble starts today, in the first match of la Copa del Rey semi-finals against its eternal rival FC Barcelona.

It is unclear whether Messi - the all-time Clasico top scorer - will be fit for the game after ending Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Valencia at the weekend with a knock.

"At the Camp Nou, Real Madrid usually play good games and although in the league game we were superior and they were in a delicate emotional moment, we expect Madrid to be at their best".

However, despite making the bench, boss Ernesto Valverde will be keen to negotiate a way past Real Madrid without relying on Messi.

"We have one training session to go, so we'll see how he is and if he can finish it and then we will decide if he plays", said the Barca coach, whose side have already defeated Madrid 5-1 this season without Messi in the side. The run in the Copa Clásicos is completed by the draw in Barcelona during the second leg of the 2011/12 quarter-finals.

Every player loves these big clashes, and Messi is in great form, so even if the manager tries to persuade him to rest, I think it would be hard to convince him of not playing.

Madrid will land in Barcelona with 21 players and Solari will have to cut out three before the game.

There are also selection issues at Madrid, with Solari likely to include either Gareth Bale or Vinicius Junior in his attack alongside Karim Benzema and Lucas Vazquez.

"The most important thing is that the player tells you he's able to play". "It's one of the hardest parts of the job for a coach".

Barca's French forward Ousmane Dembele is unlikely to be fit for the game, as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury. "If it was the last match tomorrow, than it would be different".

That could lead to some fringe players being given a chance to shine at the Nou Camp - with the likes of Brahim Diaz, Isco and Marcos Llorente hoping for the call.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.