'Copa del Rey is the third target, but tomorrow it will be the first one, because nobody plays to lose. We want two more games in February.' - Jose Mourinho.
There's been much debate over how important the Copa del Rey double-header between Real Madrid and Barcelona will be. Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas says the duel has become "a little decaffeinated" thanks to the frequent nature of their meetings in recent years - Wednesday night's quarter-final first leg clash will be the fourth time the sides have met already this season and the eighth time in less than nine months.
But while some argue that there can sometimes be too much of a good thing, Mourinho's comments in the pre-match press conference hit the nail on the head. Everyone knows the King's Cup is third on the list of priorities for both clubs this season - behind La Liga and the Champions League - but it'll be first on the list of priorities come Wednesday evening at the Bernabeu, especially because the Catalans are in town.
Let's face it, as soon as the referee blows the whistle for kick-off only one thing will matter - victory for whichever side you support. How important it is for one side, and what impact it will have on the rest of the season will soon become pretty much irrelevant. It's just one of those games - you want the bragging rights. Discussions on how it will shape or define a campaign can come after.
So with this in mind, Madrid's starting eleven. Who should Jose Mourinho go with to try and end that awful, unwanted record against Pep's Barcelona. Just one win since Jose's arrival in Madrid against the Catalans.
First of all, let's not forget that although Barca were worthy winners in their 3-1 Liga success at the Bernabeu just before Christmas, Madrid's set-up was working pretty well for about an hour. Taking the lead in record time through Karim Benzema - 23 seconds to be precise - Los Blancos were more than matching their visitors until Xavi's effort just after half-time took a wicked deflection off Marcelo, wrong-footed Casillas and ended up in the back of the net. As well documented, Cristiano Ronaldo also wasted two glorious chances - one with Madrid 1-0 up and one when they were trailing 2-1. It could have been so different but, as usual of late, it wasn't. There were still plenty of positives to take from that clash, however, and there's no need for wholesale changes.
Barca's Victor Valdes is likely to sit out, with Guardiola usually preferring to field back-up goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto in the cup. Bad news for Madrid fans, then, given Valdes's howler last time. On a serious note it should, of course, be good news for Los Blancos that a player of Valdes's ability is likely to be absent. The stopper likes to start off moves for Barca from the back, and whether Pinto can fill that gap remains to be seen - the last time he played in goal against Los Blancos, Madrid were victorious in the final of the same competition last season.
On to Madrid - and Mourinho will field his strongest XI for the contest. Alvaro Arbeloa is absent through suspension, while Sami Khedira will miss out through injury. These two absences may not seem too troublesome on paper for Madrid, but when they're out at the same time they are more problematic for Mourinho. This is because of Lass Diarra, and whether he should play at right-back or in the centre of midfield. For me, I'd go with Diarra at right-back, simply down to a preference of him over Fabio Coentrao - and my desire to stick Coentrao in the middle of the park alongside Xabi Alonso.
I have my doubts over both Lass and Coentrao at full-back. Coentrao, for starters, is left-footed and doesn't seem to hold his position well when he plays on the right. Diarra has been caught out of position a few times there, but on the whole looks more comfortable should he keep his discipline - something all Madrid players must do in Clasico contests. I'd rule out Sergio Ramos there, keeping him and Pepe at centre-back - however tempting it may be to throw Pepe into midfield as Mourinho has liked to do before (and who says he won't this time?). Plus it's too soon for Raphael Varane, in my opinion, to be thrown into the heart of the Madrid defence against the explosive Barca attack.
A defence of Casillas in goal, Lass at right-back, Pepe and Ramos at centre-back, and Marcelo at left-back will do me. What of the midfield? While many have said to throw two defensive midfielders in alongside Alonso to nullify Barca's midfield threat, I'd say the options available for Wednesday night's game make this a no-go. With Diarra (or Coentrao) covering as a full-back, and Khedira out injured, it leaves limited possibilities. Nuri Sahin could play in the centre if he was fit and in form - but he's not, so I wouldn't risk him. Coentrao's engine and pace makes him ideal in midfield with Alonso, which means Madrid will be relying on some of their flair players tracking back and helping out. Angel di Maria is one player who happily does this, but he looks 50-50 to start. Mourinho has included him in his squad but has also revealed that he's not at 100 per cent.
If the Argentine is fit, I'd go with him, Ozil and Ronaldo behind a leading man - probably Benzema. Ozil may not track back, but he's been in good form recently and has contributed to five assists in his last three matches. Games with Barca usually see chances at a premium so his ability to carve out chances from nothing will be much-needed. With regards to Ronaldo - a no-brainer that he'll start. But what was interesting from the pre-match press conference was the thoughts of Mourinho on CR7's second-half performance against Mallorca at the weekend - a performance Jose described as Ronaldo's best of the season so far - all thanks to his work-rate. Maybe he'll demand the same work-rate against Barca so we could perhaps see a different side to Madrid's top-scorer, a side that works hard and tracks back when required. It'd certainly be a welcome bonus for Los Blancos.
Benzema or Higuain? It's always a tricky one, and it could go either way. There's also the chance of Pepe playing in midfield, as mentioned before, and a lot depends of Di Maria's fitness. That's the beauty of the Clasico matches - we can expect the unexpected, and I'm sure it'll be the same at the Bernabeu tomorrow night.
Follow me on Twitter: @nicholasrigg