Whenever Real Madrid and Barcelona meet, it's considered a big day in the world of soccer. The two fierce rivals will play twice this week, first on Wednesday and then again on Saturday at Santiago Bernabeu. A spot in the Copa del Rey final is on the line on Wednesday after the first leg at Barcelona ended in a 1-1 draw. Real Madrid holds the slight advantage in this match due to the away goal scored at Camp Nou. Here are five things you need to know before Wednesday's match at 3 p.m. ET -- which can be streamed via fuboTV (Try for free):
1. This is Real Madrid's best chance at a trophy
La Liga and the Champions League are obviously the more important prize for these teams, but realistically speaking, this is looking like Real Madrid's best chance at ending the season with a trophy. A win or a scoreless draw puts the club in the final and just 180 minutes away from winning this competition, where as in La Liga, the team is nine points back of Barca and facing long odds in the Champions League. If Madrid can get by, it will be the favorite against either Valencia or Real Betis, but by no means will this team be a lock. Inconsistent results early in the season made them look like a non-contender in all competitions, but some quality showings as of late against Barca and Atletico Madrid have proven this team is capable of turning things around.
2. Messi comes up big in Clasicos
These two storied rivals have played 273 times, and nobody has found the back of the net on more occasions than Lionel Messi. The legendary player has scored 26 goals in 39 games played against Real Madrid. Eighteen of his 26 have come in La Liga play, but none have come in Copa del Rey action. Messi's 26 goals are eight more than the next two players, Alfredo Di Stefano and Cristiano Ronaldo. He's also recorded 14 assists, the most in El Clasico history.
3. Solari's job could hinge on this outcome
Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari has done a nice job getting things on track since taking over for the fired Julen Lopetegui, but it remains to be seen if he stays on as the coach past this season. Being the coach of Real Madrid can be a three-month gig if things don't go well, and perhaps there is no club in the world where coaches have a shorter leash. That said, getting past Barca and advancing to the final will give president Florentio Perez a boost of confidence, and winning the cup could be enough for Solari to stay on.
4. Rare Clasico at home for Real without Ronaldo
The last time Real Madrid played El Clasico at home without Ronaldo was on May 2, 2009. Barcelona won that match 6-2, with braces from Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry. Now with Ronaldo at Juventus, it's an uphill battle for Real Madrid to get a result. In their first league meeting in October, Barcelona won 5-1 thanks to a hat trick from Luis Suarez.
There's certainly no doubt that Real misses Ronaldo and that he is impossible to replace, but they are going to have to find somebody to step up, and so far it's been Karim Benzema with 20 goals in 40 games. They'll need more than Benzema's recent play to get the result they need.
5. History tells us there will be goals
If history tells us anything, it's that there will be goals in this game. In the history of the Copa del Rey, a tournament that dates back to 1903, Barcelona and Real Madrid have never played to a 0-0 draw. And if Barca gets one, Real will need one to force extra time. If Barcelona gets two goals, Real Madrid is going to need three.
The first goal will be crucial and will keep the chance of extra time alive. But if somehow both teams fail to score, Real Madrid will be through to the final.