Barcelona beat bitter rivals Real Madrid 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu for the second time in succession on Wednesday, and a fast turnaround sees Spain’s titans collide in a league repeat on Saturday. The Blaugrana advanced to the Copa del Rey final following their midweek mauling in Madrid. A second Clasico victory in the space of four days would Barca move 12 points above Real in La Liga, striking a fatal blow to any glimmer of a title shot Los Blancos have left.
Umtiti’s recent return to fitness means Valverde can afford to give Clement Lenglet a rest in this tough clash as he has plenty of experience at the top level and has played in this fixture multiple times. Aside from that, there is unlikely to be any changes in the defence as Real are still a dangerous opponent.
Arthur has recently returned from injury and was a substitute in the midweek Clasico, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start this match due to how he aids ball progression and helps dictate the tempo of matches. It would also be wise to give Sergio Busquets a rest with Rakitic dropping into the defensive midfield position due to his versatility. Alena has shown more than enough this season to earn a starting place in this match, which would be a great learning experience for the youngster due to the high stakes nature of the game.
Lionel Messi wasn’t at his usual best in the midweek Clasico as he had a relatively quiet match, but the team was able to get a result without him thanks in part to Dembele. Valverde can afford to give him a rest in this match with the option to use him as a substitute if needed.