El Clasico: Barcelona vs Real Madrid - 3 things to watch in Copa Del Rey first-leg
Bring out the Voldemort masks and tuck yourself away in the death eater hoods, for we're in for a spate of feisty El Clasicos coming up over the next five weeks, starting with tomorrow as Barcelona host Real Madrid in the first-leg of the Copa Del Rey.
Whilst the last meeting ended in a 5-1 shellacking of the Merengues in the league at the Camp Nou in October, interestingly, this is going to be their first meeting in the King's Cup since the 2014 final, and a first in a two-legged tie since 2013.
However, facts and figures (and even form) are rendered irrelevant when the talk is about "The Classic", and ahead of the 240th meeting between the Spanish leviathans, let's delve into some major issues taking shape:
#1 Real Madrid must go for the kill
With LaLiga aspirations still dangling by the thread and a fourth consecutive UEFA Champions League title highly unlikely, the Copa Del Rey remains manager Santiago Solari's best hopes of winning a silverware this season with Real Madrid (and also secure his job). However, in Barcelona, he faces his hardest stumbling block along the way.
The horror of a 5-1 humiliation is still very much alive in the memory, so Los Blancos won't set out at the Camp Nou turf with the greatest of confidence. But this is the competition where they really stand a chance to get their mitts on a shimmering silverware and must go for the kill.
They have won each of their last five games - Madrid's best run this season - that also witnessed Girona, famous victors over Atletico Madrid in the last 16, being dispatched 7-3 on aggregate in the quarter-finals. Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior have been the catalysts behind this upturn in form, with the Frenchman in particular netting six times in the last four games itself.
Not to suggest Real Madrid are going to nick this comfortably owing to their mini-resurgence, but at least the prospects appear far better than they were before their last meeting with the Blaugrana.