Bernabeu, Wednesday, 9pm, live on Sky Sports 2

WEAKENED sides are usually played in Spanish Cup ties but not when Real Madrid and Barcelona clash.

These rivals are meeting as often as the Old Firm nowadays – this is the eight game in seven months – but it's still a mouthwatering prospect with quality such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi on show.

Most of the matches have been crackers, barring the only Real won – the cup final last season in extra time after a 0-0 draw.

Hopefully there will be plenty of goals and there should be with the last match-ups producing 15 goals, with both sides scoring in the last four.

Both to score tonight pays just 8-13 at Ladbrokes and the one I like is over 2.5 goals at 4-5 with bet365. William Hill have a mighty 5-1 on five or more goals. if you're feeling brave.

Jose Mourinho's men haven't kept a clean sheet in seven while Barca are fielding reserve keeper Jose Pinto, who is 41 today.

Picking the winner isn't easy especially with a second leg to come. Real, five points clear at the top of La Liga, are 9-5 with Ladbrokes.

Barca, who won 3-1 at the Bernabeu earlier in the season, are 13-8 at firms such as Paddy Power but maybe it would be wise to be on the draw at 12-5 with firms including bet365, BetVictor and Stan James.

For many people the game is about Ronaldo v Messi. They are both 1-1 to score at any time with Paddy Power while and both are 9-2 at Betfred to hit the opener.

Ronaldo has scored 112 goals in 116 appearances since joining Madrid in 2009 but has struggled against Barcelona with only two goals in 13 matches.

His last goal against the Catalans was in the 1-0 cup final win but Ronaldo leads the scoring charts with 21 for the Spanish leaders whose only dropped points have been to Barca.

Messi, on the other hand, has netted four in his last five games against Real so probably has a head-to-head advantage over Ronaldo.

Pep Guardiola has won eight of his 12 meetings against his archrivals since taking over in summer 2008, losing only in that cup final.

Mourinho will be desperate to reverse the trend but the real fireworks may come in the second leg.

Recommendations

Messi to score

(1-1, Paddy Power, Betfred)

Over 2.5 goals

(4-5, bet365)

Draw

(12-5, various)

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