Barca look to avenge Copa del Rey humiliation
Madrid: The chance for revenge or to rub salt further into the wounds comes around quickly sometimes in football, at least that is what the players for Real Madrid and FC Barcelona must be thinking at the moment.
Tuesday saw Real Madrid knock Barca out of the Copa del Rey with a convincing 3-1 win in Barca`s Camp Nou Stadium and four days later the two teams will meet again in the Primera Liga in Real Madrid`s home turf in what promises to be a strange `Clasico` in many ways, reports Xinhua.
First of all the 4pm kick off time is a novelty, which will allow the match to be broadcast live in Asia, although the kick off time will probably make it one of the least watched Clasicos in Spain and means it cannot even be shown live in the UK because of broadcasting restrictions.
Secondly, with Barca 12 points ahead of second place Atletico Madrid and a massive 16 ahead of Real Madrid, the game will have little bearing on the outcome of the league title and both sides have more important games on the horizon.
Real Madrid travel to Old Trafford Tuesday night to face Manchester United in the Champions League and with their league options non-existent, Jose Mourinho is giving priority to his side`s European ambitions.
That will see him make widescale changes to the side that so convincingly beat Barcelona, with players such as Pepe, Kaka and Karim Benzema coming into the game. There is even a chance, that Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested to ensure peak fitness to play against his former club.
The Madrid fans know that Europe is the big prize and the midweek cup win has given Mourinho a lot of leeway ahead of preparing this game.
Barca also have to look ahead to a Champions League tie, but their game at home to AC Milan is not until the week after next. Temporary manager Jordi Roura`s task is now to lift the spirits of his players, who looked flatfooted and sluggish Tuesday - just as they had done in Italy a week earlier.
There are serious worries that Barca are running out of steam and with first team coach Tito Vilanova, still in the US receiving cancer treatment, many whispered voices suspect Roura is not up to the job. At the same time, everyone knows he has been thrown into the deep end under extremely difficult circumstances for the club.
Barca are expected to play their strongest side at the Bernabeu, knowing that a win would help salvage morale and end a feeling Lionel Messi has admitted the club is not used to experiencing.
David Villa may be given a chance to start ahead of Cesc Fabregas, but that could be the only change from midweek except that of Victor Valdes returning in goal, but even so a win in a slightly meaningless league game would be a hollow triumph for Barca.
The Clasico is followed by three other games in Spain Saturday as Deportivo entertain Rayo Vallecano, Osasuna take on Athletic Club Bilbao and there is a Valencia derby between Valencia and Levante.
Sunday kicks off at midday with Granada - Mallorca and is followed by Espanyol - Valladolid, Malaga - Atletico Madrid, who also reached the club final this week, and Real Sociedad - Betis, which is a game between two sides aiming to play in Europe next season.