Spanish Cup: Real Madrid eye redemption in clash against Barcelona
Barcelona were top of La Liga, Real Madrid ninth. There will be little comfort then for Madrid that Messi could be missing again today, a niggle in his thigh leaving coach Ernesto Valverde, and Messi, with a decision to make
One hundred days will split the last Clasico from the latest one and for Real Madrid the prize in the rematch is more than a place in the Copa del Rey final. When they trudged off the Camp Nou in October, the big screens above them flashed 5-1 to Barcelona, with Luis Suarez scoring three and without Lionel Messi at all, their best player injured and sitting in the stands. The next day Julen Lopetegui was sacked.
Barca were top of La Liga, Madrid ninth. There will be little comfort then for Madrid that Messi could be missing again today, a niggle in his thigh leaving coach Ernesto Valverde, and Messi, with a decision to make.
If Messi plays - and Valverde was optimistic on Sunday - it will be because he is fit. Barcelona have indicated they will not risk their captain with a gruelling month ahead.
This is a chance for Madrid to wrestle back momentum. They will hope that beating Barcelona over two legs, even in the Copa del Rey, can knock them out of their stride.
After Real's win over Alaves on Sunday, Santiago Solari said his team were ready to fight. He has played up the spirit in the camp and there have been some impressive performances to back it up, most notably against Sevilla. "The spirit is like a family," Solari said. "I think they are doing phenomenally well."
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