Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema says he expects another "great spectacle" when Barcelona travel to the Santiago Bernabeu for tonight's Copa del Rey semi-final first-leg.

With all eyes around the world likely to be focussed on the match for what will be the first of three El Clasicos in four weeks, the French international believes the meeting between the two La Liga rivals is currently the biggest fixture in football.

Benzema told the club's official website: "Real Madrid against Barcelona is the best match in the world.

"We are two amazing teams. The fans get very excited about these games, these are great spectacles."

The former Olympique Lyonnais forward is hopeful that the result when the teams last met at the Bernabeu - a 2-1 win for Real in August, which brought Jose Mourinho's side the Spanish Supercopa on away goals - will be repeated on this evening.

Benzema added: "The Clasicos are always different matches and although we know there are two legs, we are at home tomorrow and we want to play well and win.

"I do not think that Barcelona are favourites to win. 

"They are a great team, but we are as well."

Madrid's readiness will be tested with first-team regulars Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Angel Di Maria and Fabio Coentrao all sidelined with a suspension or injury.

However, Benzema believes Los Blancos have strength in depth to win against the Catalan giants.

The striker said: "It would be better if everyone was available, but we're a good group and a solid squad that's going to try to win tomorrow."

Even with the missing players, Mourinho's favoured formation will likely mean either Benzema or fellow centre-forward Gonzalo Higuain will be left out. 

The former Lyon man, though, accepts that the competition for places is a positive for the squad overall, even if it is frustrating for the individual player.

Benzema said: "I want to play more, that's normal.

"I don't know a player who likes to sit on the bench, but the decision comes down to the coach." 

Regardless of the outcome of Wednesday's first leg, Benzema predicts the tie is likely to be decided in the return game at Barcelona's Camp Nou in February - a venue where Madrid have done well recently.

Benzema concluded: "When we play in Barcelona we play well.

"We don't lose many matches there.

"We know that it's going to be difficult but I hope we win."

 

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