Wednesday, January 30 sees 2013’s first instalment of probably the most eagerly awaited clash in club football; Real Madrid v Barcelona in El Clasico.
The latest Clasico is the first leg of a Copa del Rey semi-final where both Barça boss Tito Vilanova and his counterpart at Santiago Bernabeu, Jose Mourinho, will be desperate for a win, owing to their differing situations.
Barcelona are sitting pretty at the top of La Liga, a full 15 points ahead of los Blancos, and knocking their rivals out of the only other domestic competition they can win could be a decisive blow in the rivalry between the two for this season.
Real Madrid have had an inconsistent season so far and a defeat of the Blaugrana would prove to be a big psychological boost if they are top have any chance of overhauling the substantial points difference in the league.
Mourinho’s record against Barcelona has improved in recent times and Real Madrid have lost just once in the two sides’ last five meetings after only tasting victory once in the ten previous.
Those players chosen to start the match will be under immense pressure to perform and GiveMeFootball has attempted to predict what the two line-ups will look like.
Madrid will be without captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas after he fractured a bone in his hand against Valencia last week – he now faces a significant spell on the sidelines.
It is not the only absence Mourinho has to deal with, as he will be without defender Pepe due to injury, while Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrão and Angel di Maria are suspended.
Here are GMF’s predicted line-ups…
Valdes; Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Pedro; Messi.
Adan; Albiol, Arbeloa, Marcelo, Carvalho; Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Ozil, Ronaldo, Benzema; Higuain.
What do you think the starting XIs will look like? Leave a comment below to let us know…