Real Madrid dominant in first half


The encounter saw Phillippe Coutinho score a brace, while Ivan Rakitic, Sergi Roberto, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi added their names to the scoresheet to complete the 6-3 aggregate win.

Barca remain La Liga leaders, but Real have closed the gap and are now third, with Solari having helped restore some equilibrium in Madrid.

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said the uncertainty about Messi wasn't affecting his team's preparations. There is no favorite in a semi-final between Barca and Madrid, it is an open game, we have great players and among them is the man we think is the best player in the world.

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Messi became the first player in Europe's top five leagues to reach the 20-goal mark this season when he scored his brace against Valencia. Ernesto Valverde's side thrashed Real 5-1 when they met in Catalonia back in October, and Wednesday's visitors are under huge pressure to avoid a similar embarrassment.

There is little doubt Benzema will start, as he has six goals in the last four matches.

Valverde can only name 18 players in his final match day squad, though, so one player will have to miss out.

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Shortly before training, Valverde had said in a press conference: "I have not seen him yet and I don't have an answer. Isco? For the sake of Real Madrid I would speak with the president of Real Madrid [Florentino Pérez]".

Ousmane Dembele, who had trained separately on Monday, also re-joined his teammates in Tuesday's practice, but he was not included in the squad list for Wednesday's game.

"They were in a completely different place then, which needs to be taken into consideration", he said of Madrid, who have won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions.

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