James Rodriguez Real Madrid Real Betis
James Rodriguez scored his first goal in 73 days on Wednesday. He had scored last against Espanyol.Reuters

Real Madrid have been a team on a mission irrespective of the competition as was reflected in their dominating display against Cultural Leonesa, who suffered a massive second leg 6-1 defeat in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday. However, Real's arch-rivals Barcelona looked off-colour as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Hercules in their first leg encounter.

Real had come into this fixture with a massive advantage, defeating Cultural Leonesa 7-1 in the first leg, so they had the match in the bag before the first whistle. Manager Zinedine Zidane made a number of changes with an eye on the upcoming El Classico on Saturday.

Real played with a number of young guns, and they put up an impressive performance, playing some wonderful football to thrash their opponents. Mariano Diaz was the biggest star of the night, netting a hat-trick, which included a goal in the first minute. James Rodriguez made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute. Mariano completed his hat-trick with a goal in the 42nd and 87th minute.

Though Mariano bagged the major spotlight, Zidane's son Enzo also found the back of the net in his Real debut, scoring in the 63rd minute. With such wonderful talented players, Real's future seems to be in good hands as these youngsters can play an important role for the club when their time comes in the near future. 

However, Barcelona were below par in their match against Hercules, who played some decent football to manage a draw. Barcelona, like Real Madrid, rested some of their stars ahead of the El Classico, but they were not able to command the game much, and in fact, went 0-1 down in the 52 minutes after it was goalless in the first 45 minutes.

Barcelona did not waste much time in scoring the equaliser with Carles Alena finding the back of the net in the 57th minute. This goal gave hope to the visitors, who were searching for their second goal, which did not materialise despite Barca's attempt at goal, leading to 1-1 finish.

Though Barcelona and Real Madrid played with their youngsters and fringe players, there will be no room for excuses in the El Classico, which will witness stars of both the teams back into the manifold with the hope of clinching three important points.