- Real will have to face their biggest rivals in one of their biggest games of the season with a very makeshift defence as Iker Casillas and Pepe remain out injured, whilst Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao are suspended.
- Diego Lopez is expected to make his first appearance in goal since rejoining the club at the weekend and Michael Essien will once again drop in at right-back with Alvaro Arbeloa shifting across to left-back.
- Further forward though the Spanish champions will be more recognisable as Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso will return after being rested at the weekend and will be joined by the in-form Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil.
- Barcelona by contrast are at full-strength for the trip to the Bernabeu and stand-in boss Jordi Roura is expected to return to the XI that has been used in their most important games of the season so far after handing starts to Thiago, Adriano and David Villa in the 5-1 win over Osasuna on Sunday.
- That means that Andres Iniesta will again play on the left side of a front three with Cesc Fabregas coming back into midfield and Pedro playing on the other side of Lionel Messi.
- Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are also expected to be paired together at the expense of Javier Mascherano.
- Clasicos are always exciting and tense encounters but Barca's record at the Bernabeu in recent seasons has been exceptional with August's 2-1 defeat in the Supercopa their first reverse in their last eight trips there, and with the hosts' missing such a host of important defensive players it is hard to see how they will be able to cope with Barca's pace and movement in the final third.
- Madrid will also fancy themselves to score given Barca's own troubles with conceding goals in recent games and Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in each of the last six meetings between the two but it is still unlikely to be enough for Jose Mourinho's men to keep the tie alive heading to the Nou Camp next month.