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

La Liga leaders Barcelona will welcome arch-rivals Real Madrid to Camp Nou on Wednesday evening to contest the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final showdown.

The diminutive Argentinian is in fine form but suffered a minor leg injury in Saturday's La Liga draw with Valencia.

He returned to training with the team on Tuesday and had been doubtful for the first leg of the semifinals against Madrid.

On the Copa del Rey encounter with Real Madrid, the Barcelona boss added: 'It's a special game.

"It's always good when the best players get to play every game, but whether or not he plays will not influence the way we prepare for the game at all", Solari said. "If Messi's ready he will play, if he's not he won't".

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says that he is open to negotiating terms with Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez for out-of-favour attacker Isco.

There are also selection issues at Madrid, with Solari likely to include either Gareth Bale or Vinicius Junior in his attack alongside Karim Benzema and Lucas Vazquez.

In midfield, it is likely that Valverde's most hard decision will be whether to start the passionate Arturo Vidal, or whether to play with more touch and control with Arthur Melo.

Santiago Solari will be looking to become only the first Barcelona or Real Madrid manager in the 21st century to win his first El Clasico in the dugout, next to Zinedine Zidane.

Of course, tiredness could be an issue, but that is natural for a big club that usually is in two or three competitions at the same time and Barcelona aren't any different.

Bale is one of the many Madrid players who have recovered from injury in recent days, along with other forwards Mariano Diaz and Marco Asensio.

Interestingly, the 42-year-old claimed his job at the White House within 24 hours after Julen Lopetegui's side was humbled 5-1 by the Catalans.

  • Rosalie Stanley