Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Bernabéu / PHOTO: FCB ARCHIVE

Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona. The Clásico. It’s a match that’s eagerly awaited by fans from all around the globe, and this evening the two giants of Spanish football will face off for the fourth time this season. Since Tito Vilanova took charge of the Barça bench the Blaugrana have defeated Real Madrid once (3-2, Spanish Super Cup away leg), lost once (2-1, Spanish Super Cup return leg) and tied once (2-2, Liga).

Slow start in La Liga hasn’t stopped Madrid in the Cup

Real Madrid’s La Liga campaign has been riddled with inconsistency. However, the Spanish capital-based side, despite trailing the Blaugrana by 15 points, are showing signs of the form that took them to last year’s domestic title. Since the beginning of the calendar year Los Blancos haven’t tasted defeat. Of their five games in 2013, they’ve won three (Valencia - twice -,  and Getafe) tied two (Valencia and Osasuna). In addition, they’ve netted 12 goals and only conceded one.

Ones to watch

José Mourinho will be without five of his most important players (Casillas, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Coentrao, and Di María), but Mourinho’s teams - almost without exception - are better than the sum of their individual parts. In fact, most of Real Madrid’s attack-minded players will be available for selection tomorrow, the most important of which is Cristiano Ronaldo. The 2012 Ballon d’Or runner up has scored 41.6% of Madrid’s goals (5) in 2013, and he’s second in the race for the coveted Pichichi trophy with 21 goals to Messi’s 33.

Real Madrid are ready for the challenge

“FC Barcelona aren’t favourites,” declared Karim Benzema in yesterday’s pre-match press conference. “They are a great team but we are ready. Every year we perform at a higher level against them.” It’s a sentiment that lends credence to the idea that it doesn’t matter how Barça or Madrid come in to the match, a Clásico is a Clásico – and Clásicos are unpredictable, at best. Jordi Roura, speaking to the press in Barcelona yesterday, noted: “Nothing has been won, under these circumstances, they are much more dangerous [...] These matches are very tight, they’re decided by very small details.”

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