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Pique: Barca have Clasico advantage

Gerard Pique believes that Real Madrid's missing players could give Barcelona an edge in next Wednesday's Copa del Rey semi-final at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

• Blog: El Clasico awaits

Barca saw off a spirited Malaga challenge 4-2 in Thursday's thriller at La Rosaleda, setting up two Copa Clasicos against Madrid - who in the first leg will be without Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria through a mix of injury and suspension.

And Pique feels that Casillas - who reportedly needs an operation on his broken finger and could be out for at least two months - is an especially important absence for Madrid.

"Madrid will still be dangerous even though they will be missing important players," he said. "Casillas is the captain and the emblem of Madrid. Adan is also a very good keeper, but missing your captain can affect a team."

Blaugrana midfielder Sergio Busquets hopes his side can pick up a positive result at the Bernabeu to smooth their progress to the final - where Atletico Madrid or Sevilla will await.

"We want to win every competition we play in," Busquets said. "We hope to get a good result in the away leg [in Madrid] and then with our fans cheering us on [at the Camp Nou in the last week of February], we hope to get to the final."

With the teams also meeting in La Liga at the Bernabeu in early March, we are now set for three Clasicos in less than four weeks, bringing the total to 17 clashes in the two-and-a-half years since Jose Mourinho took charge of Madrid in the summer of 2010.

Recalling the drama and controversy which have surrounded many of these past games Andres Iniesta, another goalscorer on Thursday night, said he hoped for "semi-finals which are tense, but only on the pitch" and that "what happened in other years does not happen again".


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