On Wednesday, Real Madrid will take on Barcelona in a highly-anticipated Copa del Rey clash. Los Blancos will lock horns with their bitter rival in El Clasico, as a ticket to
the final is at stake.
However, earning a first-leg advantage will not be the only concern on Santiago Solari's mind. The Bernabeu boss is aware of the tough month that awaits his side, as this Copa del Rey matchup will be the first of six tricky games until early March.
In the span of the next four weeks, not only will Benzema and Co. face the Blaugrana twice over this two-legged affair, but will clash with Atletico in the Madrid Derby before playing both legs of the Champions League round of 16 clash with Ajax. Let's not forget, Real Madrid's one remaining league tie with Messi and Co. is also on its way.
This is how Real Madrid's fixtures for the next four weeks look like
The question is will Los Blancos be able to cope? This has not been the best of seasons for the Champions League holder, no one expected it to be after Cristiano Ronaldo walked out the door without being replaced, but the tides have turned in their favor.
Since that disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Real Sociedad in early January, the Madrid giant has played eight games and won all but one. That sole defeat -- a 1-0 loss to Leganes in the Copa del Rey -- did not matter as Solari's men had won the previous leg 3-0 and had to freedom to rotate their squad.
This game also coincides with a return to form for Benzema. The Frenchman has scored in all of his last four appearances, netting a total of six times in that timeframe after going four consecutive games without scoring. Add in the fact that the Madrid giant has fared well in their last 10 trips to the Catalan giant and the team might fancy their chances of upsetting the Copa holders.
Real Madrid has won more times at Camp Nou in their last 10 visits there than the home side
Another question arises, however. Will Solari focus on all three competitions or place his eggs in one basket? Real Madrid's history of turning up in Europe could help them cruise past Ajax in the last-16, but with crucial games coming up in the league and cup competitions, the boss might just prioritize one over the other.
Los Merengues trail Messi and Co. in La Liga by only eight points, but unless a disaster occurs at Camp Nou, the odds of Real Madrid beating them to the league crown are slim. The Copa del Rey might be Solari's only shot at silverware and might thus go all out in that game than their league clash with the Blaugrana.
On the other hand, losing at the Bernabeu to their bitter rival in the Spanish top-flight will likely get the Blancos booed especially after the 5-1 thrashing they suffered at Camp Nou earlier this season. It will be interesting to see how the manager handles this crazy month. Whether they will emerge on top remain unknown but what is sure is that we are in for excitement.