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With Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of Elche, Barcelona appears to have one hand on the La Liga championship and holds a 1-0 lead going into this Copa del Rey (CDR) semi-final second leg against bitter rivals Real Madrid. Although if a draw would be sufficient for them to move to the May final, only one of the last 10 head-to-head matches (W4, L5) finished with a tie after 90 minutes, suggesting that Xavi’s team still has a lot of work to do.
Barça can poorly afford to rest on their laurels as they attempt to reach a record 43rd final because their dramatic 2-1 league victory here last month was their first home H2H victory since October 2018 (D2, L2). However, they will begin as well-deserved favorites for the 254th competitive edition of “El Clásico” after keeping three straight CDR clean sheets anywhere and staying undefeated here since October (W7, D2).
Madrid will have less time to recuperate than their opponents, but manager Carlo Ancelotti insisted that there is “no disadvantage.” Losing this match would tie the all-time competitive head-to-head series at 101 victories each. For their comprehensive 6-0 thrashing of Valladolid on Sunday, which reduced Barcelona’s league advantage back to 12 points, the Madrid manager at least had the opportunity to rest some of his players.
For Los Blancos, playing away from home has been a bigger issue as they try to avoid enduring three competitive road games without a victory. (D1, L1). More encouragingly, Madrid won both CDR away games this season by a solitary goal. If this trend continued, extra time would be required, which Madrid might embrace after winning the last four head-to-head matches where it was required.
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