Real Madrid dominant in first half

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Tonight's showdown promises to be an explosive match as usual as both teams will playing their second El Clasico of the 2018/19 season in the first leg semi finals of the Copa del Rey.

Barcelona's talisman Lionel Messi is on the bench having not been deemed fit enough to start having picked up a leg injury against Valencia at the weekend.

Wednesday's first leg will be Santiago Solari's first taste of El Clasico, and it sits as a reminder of his duties that his predecessor, Julen Lopetegui, was sacked following the Camp Nou defeat in October.

Coach Ernesto Valverde said that the club would take a "last minute" call on whether to include Messi or not.

"In football it is good for the best players to play in all games", Solari said.

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If Messi plays it will be because he is fit. "If it was the last match tomorrow, than it would be different". "It's one of the hardest parts of the job for a coach".

For Real Madrid, however, they have nearly a fully fit squad - only Jesus Vallejo and Luca Zidane are unavailable - and Santiago Solari has chose to bring 21 players to Barcelona, meaning that there will be two outfielders who will have to watch on from the stands, along with third-choice goalkeeper Diego Altube.

The fact that these games seem more likely to define Madrid's season than Barcelona's says everything about the two clubs' current fortunes. Bale returned as a starter on Sunday alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior as Alaves was beaten 3-0 in the Spanish league, the team's fifth consecutive win in all competitions.

That could lead to some fringe players being given a chance to shine at the Nou Camp - with the likes of Brahim Diaz, Isco and Marcos Llorente hoping for the call.

A year earlier, in the 2012/13 campaign, there was a Clásico in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

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