Real Madrid and Barcelona clash in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal and both teams are 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 battled back to draw at home against 10-man Atletico Madrid in La Liga over the weekend. Real beat Barcelona 3-1 in the La Liga meeting between the two teams earlier this season but they currently sit seven points behind league leaders Barcelona. If they grab a big win in the first leg, it could be a big psychological boost for Real ahead of the run-in.
As for Barca, well, it hasn’t been a great week for the Catalan club. They were knocked out of the UEFA Europa League by Manchester United, picked up a few key injuries and suffered a shock defeat against Almeria as they missed a chance to extend their lead atop the La Liga table. It’s not all doom and gloom as Xavi’s project is still ticking along nicely and Barcelona are heavy favorites to win the Spanish title once again.
Here’s everything you need for the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the second leg taking place at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, Apr. 5.
How to watch Real Madrid vs Barcelona live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 3pm ET, Thursday (March 2)
Updates: Stats and analysis via NBCSports.com
Online: Stream via ESPN+
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
Veteran Luka Modric continues to defy logic with his displays in midfield, while Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema have been in fine form in attack. Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga have been superb in recent weeks too. Defensively Real are short of options but Nacho has filled in admirably at full back.
Barcelona continue to chop and change their team but they will be without top scorer Robert Lewandowski through injury for this clash. Gavi and Pedri are essential to how they play under Xavi but the latter is missing, which is a big blow too. A special shoutout to goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen as Barcelona’s defense has allowed just eight goals in 23 La Liga games 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 won’t return until early April. Rodrygo is a doubt after a hip injury.
Barcelona team news, injuries, lineup options
Xavi is without a trio of key players as Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele are all out. Ansu Fati is also a doubt so there’s a lot of pressure on Raphinha and Ferran Torres in attack.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona, live! El Clasico score, updates from Copa del Rey originally appeared on NBCSports.com