Real Madrid and Barcelona clash in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final and both teams find themselves in slightly different places heading into the latest edition of their incredible rivalry.
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Carlo Ancelotti saw his side dismantle Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield in the Champions League last week and they fought back to draw at home against 10-man Atletico Madrid in La Liga at the weekend. Real beat Barcelona 3-1 in the La Liga meeting between the two teams earlier this season, but they are currently seven points behind leaders Barcelona. If they take a big win in the first leg, it could be a big psychological boost for Real ahead of the run-in.
As for Barca, it was not a great week for the Catalan club. They were knocked out of the UEFA Europa League by Manchester United, suffered a few key injuries and suffered a shock defeat to Almeria as they missed a chance to extend their lead at the top of La Liga. It’s not all doom and gloom, as Xavi’s project is still progressing well and Barcelona are hot favorites to win the Spanish title again.
Here’s everything you need for the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final at Santiago Bernabeu, with the return leg at Camp Nou on Wednesday 5 April.
How to watch Real Madrid vs Barcelona live, stream link and start time
Kickoff: 3pm ET, Thursday (March 2)
Updates: Stats and Analysis via NBCSports.com
Online: Stream via ESPN+
Main storylines and players in shape to watch
Veteran Luka Modric continues to defy logic with his displays in midfield, while Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema are in fine form offensively. Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga have also been sublime in recent weeks. Defensively, Real are short on options, but Nacho has filled in admirably at fullback.
Barcelona continue to chop and swap their team, but they will be without top scorer Robert Lewandowski through injury this game. Gavi and Pedri are essential to how they play under Xavi, but the latter is missing, which is also a big blow. A special shoutout to goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen as Barcelona’s defense have conceded just eight goals in 23 La Liga matches so far this season. Eight.
Real Madrid team news, injuries, lineup options
Ferland Mendy is still out, while David Alaba injured his hamstring against Liverpool and will not return until early April. Rodrygo is doubtful after a hip injury.
Barcelona team news, injuries, line-up options
Xavi is without three main players as Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé are all out. Ansu Fati is also a doubtful case, so there is a lot of pressure on Raphinha and Ferran Torres in attack.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona live! El Clásico score, Copa del Rey updates originally appeared on NBCSports.com