27th February, 2019
Another soccer classic is on the cards this evening in Spain as Real Madrid hosts Barcelona in the second leg of the 2019 Copa Del Rey Competition. This match is a semi-final game that had the first leg end at 1-1 and that makes it a sort of do-or-die game for both teams tonight.
Meanwhile, two players each for Barcelona and Real Madrid are at the risk of being suspended for the Copa del Rey final should their team advance, if they receive a yellow card in today’s semifinal.
Jordi Alba, Luis Suárez, Sergio Ramos and Nacho are all one card away from a one-match ban, and will have to be on their best behavior to avoid a suspension. However, they may find that hard as today’s clásico has everything left to play for with both teams drawing the first leg 1-1.
Alba and Suárez are nailed-on starters for Barça, while Ramos is Madrid’s captain. Slightly less worrying for los blancos will be Nacho, who may not feature today.
The final is set to be played at Real Betis’s Benito Villamarín Stadium in Seville.
Suárez already missed a Copa final through suspension, in 2017. Barça would defeat Deportivo Alavés 3-1 to win the cup that year despite missing the Uruguayan after he was sent off by Gil Manzano in the second leg of that competition’s semifinal against Atlético Madrid.
Nacho has already been ruled out for Madrid’s next league match, which is also against Barcelona, having been sent off in the capital club’s 2-1 win over Levante. Incidentally, Ramos had missed that match through suspension for a red card in Madrid’s previous match.
Today, UEFA charged that Ramos should be suspended for both Madrid’s return leg against Ajax in the Champions League and the next match Madrid play in the competition, after having deliberately gotten a yellow card in an attempt to “reset” his yellow card record.
Meanwhile as far as Barcelona is concerned, Ernesto Valverde has called up the following 19 players for the trip to Madrid:
Goalkeepers: 1. Marc-André ter Stegen, 13. Jasper Cillessen, 30. Iñaki Peña
Defenders: 2. Nélson Semedo, 3. Gerard Piqué, 15. Clément Lenglet, 18. Jordi Alba, 23. Samuel Umtiti
Midfielders: 4. Ivan Rakitic, 5. Sergio Busquets, 7. Philippe Coutinho, 8. Arthur, 20. Sergi Roberto, 21. Carles Aleñá, 22. Arturo Vidal
Forwards: 9. Luis Suárez, 10. Lionel Messi, 11. Ousmane Dembélé, 14. Malcom
The big news here is the return of two players from injury: Arthur is back after missing three weeks with a hamstring issue, while Jasper Cillessen comes back over a month after injuring his calf in training. Only Rafinha (knee) and Thomas Vermaelen (leg) miss El Clásico due to injury, while Jeison Murillo, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sergi Samper and Jean-Clair Todibo didn’t travel to Madrid per the manager’s decision.
Predicted starting XI (4-3-3):
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suárez, Dembélé