28 February 2019
The arch-rivals go head-to-head in the 240th competitive El Clasico as Real Madrid welcome Barcelona to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu for the return leg of their of their Copa del Rey semi-finals tie.
Los Blancos have ensured a positive result ahead of this derby, holding Barca to a 1-1 stalemate at Camp Nou, but both sides will have everything to play for in this massive showdown. Although the hosts come into this meeting off the back of a 2-1 road win over Levante, Santiago Solari’s men have failed to impress in that game, scoring both goals from the spot-kick. Moreover, the reigning European holders saw their four-game winning home run across all competitions going down when Girona stormed through Santiago Bernabeu ten days ago. Los Blancos’ recent problems are heavily linked with the defensive frailties that have seen them concede at least one goal in eight of their previous nine games. However, Solari’s frightening firepower has managed 2+ match goals in eight of their last ten competitive outings to compensate for defensive mistakes.
Meanwhile, the visitors’ outstanding second-half comeback against Sevilla has seen them secure a 4-2 road victory, bringing a minor attacking crisis to an end. But, the fact that the Catalans have drawn a blank in three of their last five road clashes across all competitions should worry Ernesto Valverde ahead of this encounter. An encouraging fact for the Spanish manager is, however, that his players managed to preserve a clean slate three times in a row prior to weekend’s clash with the Andalusians, which is something they’ve failed to pull off for this entire season. Atypically for them, the Blaugrana have been awkwardly apathetic in the opening stage of the game for the past four weeks, scoring a goal inside the opening 30 minutes in just one of their last six competitive meetings.
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