Barcelona president Bartomeu reveals he would contact Real chief Perez about Isco

While Lionel Messi gave Barcelona reason to feel optimistic about his ability to play in Wednesday's Copa del Rey semifinal, Real Madrid's main concern is who to leave out for the "Clasico" game.

Messi is a doubt for the game having picked up a thigh problem in Saturday's 2-2 La Liga draw with Valencia, with tests to determine the extent of the injury due on Tuesday.

Now, they are looking to end FC Barcelona's run of four consecutive Copa del Rey triumphs.

Madrid arrives for the match at Camp Nou enjoying its best period of the season and with almost all of its players available.

Messi, 31, last played for the national team at the 2018 World Cup, but is widely expected to make his return in March.

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said the uncertainty about Messi wasn't affecting his team's preparations.

Mijatovic believes Lucas Vazquez should be selected ahead of the Welshman.

"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. "It's one of the hardest parts of the job for a coach". Vinicius plays better at the Bernabeu.

Barca's French forward Ousmane Dembele is unlikely to be fit for the game, as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Benzema and Vinicius have wreaked havoc thus far.

Lionel Messi: Why is the Barcelona star not playing against Real Madrid?

Barcelona are among the clubs to have been linked with a move for the 26-year-old, along with the likes of Manchester City and Juventus, and Bartomeu would be happy to negotiate a deal with opposite number Florentino Perez.

With their good fortune in the Champions League surely unable to hold for a fourth straight season, the Copa del Rey looks like the club's best chance of a trophy this season. Third choice goalie Luca Zidane is now the only casualty in a strong Los Merengues' side which will be raring to go at Barcelona from the first whistle at the Camp Nou.

  • Angelo Rivera