Copa del Rey Preview: Real Madrid vs Barcelona
Posted: 17 January 2012 Time: 4:22 pm
Jose Mourinho will be hoping to draw first blood in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final tie versus their Catalan rivals at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
REAL MADRID: Casillas – Coentrao, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo – Xabi Alonso, Diarra – Callejon, Ozil, Ronaldo – Benzema
BARCELONA: Pinto – Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal – Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta – Messi, Cesc, Sanchez
Jose Mourinho will be without the suspended Alvaro Arbeloa who failed in his attempt to get his one-match ban overturned. Fabio Coentrao is expected to deputise at right-back. Pepe is a doubt with a thigh strain although the Portuguese defender is expected to pass a late fitness test.
Sami Khedira is definitely ruled out of the game after spraining his ankle last week against Malaga so Lassana Diarra is in line to keep his place in the Madrid starting line-up.
Jose Callejon should retain his place in the first XI due to Angel di Maria picking up a fresh injury in training.
Barcelona will be without Seydou Keita, who is away at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations while Andreu Fontas looks unlikely to appear again this season after picking up a serious knee injury in the Copa del Rey win over Osasuna last week.
Pedro also picked up a knock in the game and appears to have been ruled out while Pep Guardiola will be without David Villa and Ibrahim Afellay who have long-term injuries.
Dani Alves looks set to return to the starting line-up while Cesc Fabregas is expected to continue his role upfront alongside Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez. Jose Pinto will start the game in goal, with the experienced goalkeeper continuing his run in the domestic cup.
DID YOU KNOW?
Real Madrid have won only one of their previous 12 meetings with their Catalan rivals (losing eight and drawing the other three).
In last month's defeat to Pep Guardiola's men, Karim Benzema scored the quickest goal in Clasico history, finding the back of the net after only 23 seconds.
Madrid are the reigning Copa del Rey champions after beating Barcelona 1-0 at Mestalla in last season's final courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo's extra-time winner.
Barcelona came from a goal down to defeat Madrid 3-1 in La Liga last month with Alexis Sanchez, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas on the scoresheet.
The victory was the first time in six games where Lionel Messi had not netted at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The game between the two great rivals will represent the ninth Clasico in just over a year.