Big Game Focus: Real Madrid v Barcelona

Real Madrid and Barcelona will meet twice at the Bernabeu in the space of four days this week. First up is the second leg of the Copa del Rey tonight. Bet on the match here

There is a huge amount riding on this game, not least for Santi Solari, who could do with a win to help convince the club of his suitability for the role on a permanent basis. Ernesto Valverde has recently renewed his contract and he will be hoping to ride on the momentum of their 4-2 win away to Sevilla during the weekend.

Real Madrid headed into the first leg in brilliant form but they come to this fixture in less convincing form than their opponents. They will need to engage another gear or two if they are to make a real game of this.

Betting preview

Lionel Messi was brilliant at the weekend, and he is hitting form and fitness at just the right time. He is the record scorer in El Clasico, with 26 goals in 39 appearance and he makes an excellent punt for the Anytime Goalscorer market at odds of 1.75.

Real Madrid are a far more balanced and effective side now, though they are still vulnerable at the back with just one clean sheet in nine matches heading into this. The same is true in three of the last five meetings between the two sides and you can back that Both Teams to Score at odds of 1.40.

Heading into this fixture it is Barcelona who look much more convincing and with Messi fit and firing they look like the side to win. They have won two of the last four renewals with the other two ending in draws. There is value for an Away Win and you can back that at odds of 2.35.

Team news

Keylor Navas is expected back in Real Madrid’s starting lineup as has been the case in all their Copa del Rey games this season. Lucas Vazquez is expected to get a start on the right-hand side for the hosts, with Gareth Bale likely to get a chance to make an impact from the bench later on.

Samuel Umtiti returned from injury and he could be given the nod to start, Arthur is still an injury doubt and Arturo Vidal could start in his place. Ousmane Dembele has performed well since his return and he will be preferred over Philippe Coutinho on the left side of the attack.

Possible lineup

Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon, Kroos, Casemiro, Modric, Vazquez, Benzema, Junior.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Roberto, Umtiti, Pique, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal, Messi, Suarez, Dembele.