Barcelona’s Leo Messi faces a race against time to be fit for tomorrow’s El Clasico against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu.
Messi, the all-time El Clasico top goalscorer has missed 10 games through injury but has trained with the first team squad since Monday and was given the all clear to return but manager Luis Enrique insisted he will make the decision closer to kick off.
Even if Messi fails to make Enrique’s starting eleven, Barcelona will be confident of claiming with the points with Neymar and Luis Suarez both in form, scoring 16 league goals between them in their last 10 games.
Karim Benzema is also expected to feature for Real Madrid following his off-field incident that ruled him out of their last fixture against Sevilla. Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez both returned from injury in that match and will be expected to start this weekend.
With the international friendly between Spain and Belgium postponed earlier during the week due to the deadly bombings and shootings in Paris, Europe has been on high alert and those who feared that El Clasico may be under threat were calmed by the Spanish government’s executive sports official, Miguel Cardenal.
“The advice is the same as last week, to act normally and in absolute freedom,” he said.
Spain’s sports council (CSD) have announced they intend for fans to attend the match “with a guarantee of normality.”
A win for Barcelona will extend their lead at the top of the La Liga table by six points while a victory for Madrid will put them tied on points with Barcelona. – Anthony Johnston
Top photo of Cristiano Ronaldo in action in the last El Clasico encounter (23/3/15), from Real Madrid’s Facebook page.