Barcelona v Real Madrid: Copa Del Rey preview

The Spanish giants meet at the Nou Camp in the Copa Del Rey semi-final second leg tonight, with the match all square at 1-1 after the first leg

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The Independent Football

Barcelona are twelve points clear at the top of La Liga and with the league seemingly in the bag, it can be argued that tonight's clash for a place in the final of the Copa Del Rey is more important for Real Madrid.

Jose Mourinho's side currently lie third in the table, 16 points behind their great rivals, and while a tenth European Cup is the ultimate goal this term, that is by no means guaranteed. Real travel to Old Trafford next Tuesday for the second leg of their last-16 tie against Manchester United, but with the scores level at 1-1 after the first match, there is a very real possibility that Los Merengues could be knocked out. Should Real fail to progress in the Copa Del Rey tonight they could see all their trophy hopes disappear in the matter of a week.

While Barcelona are running away with La Liga, they are struggling in the Champions League after losing 2-0 at the San Siro in the first leg of their last-16 tie against AC Milan, with former Portsmouth players Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari on target for the Rossoneri.

Tonight will see the mouth-watering prospect of the world's two best players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, facing each other. Messi set the record for the most number of goals in a calendar year in 2012 with 91, beating Gerd Muller's 85 in 1972, and so far this season the Argentinian has scored 49 goals in 38 matches for Barcelona. Ronaldo has also been in fine form, with 37 goals in 38 matches for Real.

The previous four El Clasico's this season have all been close matches with not much between the two sides. The teams first met at the Camp Nou in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on August 23, with Barcelona winning 3-2. The second leg of the Spanish Super Cup was on August 29 at the Bernabeu, with Real winning 2-1 and winning the cup on away goals. Messi and Ronaldo both scored a goal each in both legs. The first La Liga Clasico of the season was on October 7, with Messi and Ronaldo both scoring two goals as the sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou. The first leg of this semi-final was at the Bernabeu on January 30 and finished 1-1.

Whoever fails to progress tonight will have a swift opportunity for revenge. The sides meet again on Saturday night in the league.



Barcelona to win: 7/10

Real Madrid to win: 10/3

Draw: 3/1


TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 at 8pm, highlights on Sky Sports 1 at 1am on Wednesday.