FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will meet in a two-legged semi-final in the Copa del Rey.
The two giants of Spanish football are separated by ten points atop La Liga but will meet on an even footing in the cup with a place in the final, to be held at Real Betis’ Benito Villamarin stadium, up for grabs.
It means that these age-old foes will meet three times in a month, with a league clash set for March 2nd, and that February will be an enormous month for Santiago Solari with a game against crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid, two legs of a Champions League knockout tie with Ajax and a Copa semi-final against their arch rivals.
Solari is under increasing pressure at Madrid after struggling to get results or present a cohesive, attacking team.
The Argentine was only hired as a temporary measure but then handed a three-year contract extension in November. He is nonetheless expected to be replaced in the summer if Florentino Perez, the club’s president, can convince a leading head coach to take on the job at the Bernabeu.
In his recent attempts to upgrade in the dugout, Perez has struck out with Julen Lopetegui flaming out inside months of his appointment having been sixth or seventh choice for the role. Solari was an easy internal appointment for now but Madrid are ten points off Barcelona and look incapable of making up such a deficit with their inconsistent showings in recent weeks and months.