Barcelona vs Real Madrid: injured and suspended players for El Clásico 2021
Despite the likes of Ramos, Ronaldo and Messi moving on, El Clásico is still, arguably the biggest game in domestic club football.
Following two consecutive wins, against Valencia last weekend in LaLiga (2-1) and a 1-0 win against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday in the Champions League, FC Barcelona are still a team posing more questions than delivering answers as both president Laporta and coach Koeman look to steady the ship in the boardroom and on the pitch.
A win over arch-rivals would deliver the perfect tonic for the club and supporters and this was echoed by defender Jordi Alba who confirmed that the squad have a "positive feeling" ahead of Sunday's 'El Clásico' with the return to action of teenager Ansu Fati adding to the slowly growing confidence among Cùles.
The Spanish international has been included in the 23-man-squad ahead of the Camp Nou clash but there is no place for the injured quartet of Araujo, Braithwaite, Dembele and Ballon d'Or nominee Pedri with the Canary Islander still not fully recovered from the injury sustained in the Champions League clash against Benfica.
Barcelona's reliance on youth this season has been greater than Real Madrid's, for obvious reasons. But in Vinicius Junior they have one of most in-form players aged 21 or younger in world football, and Eduardo Camavinga joined in pre-season after developing into a serious talent at Rennes.
Camavinga remains something of a mystery regarding his long-term role and even suitability at Madrid, given he has only played five league games, but his promising beginning at Rennes offers plenty to be optimistic about.
Vinicius has rarely appeared to lack confidence, but now that seems to be translating into extra attacking responsibility and he's embracing it. He's carrying the ball more and across greater distances, but more importantly than that, it's leading to an increase in Madrid's output in the final third, with Vinicius' shot involvements from ball carries improving to 2.9 this term from 1.1 (per 90 minutes) in 2020-21.
Suddenly he's looking like the future superstar many thought he was destined to be when he left Flamengo, with his wonderful brace against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday a prime example of his new-found clinical nature.
Few would bet against him having a similarly decisive impact in El Clasico, but even if he doesn't, there will be enough young talent on display to highlight why this could be the start of an exciting new era in Spanish football's most watched fixture.
The Italian coach will be without Welsh striker Gareth Bale who is still recovering from a knee problem. Sevilla born Dani Ceballos will also miss out on the game with the midfielder expected to return from his ankle problem in November. Serbian striker Jovic is also a doubt and despite training apart on Friday, Karim Benzema and Isco are expected to be included in the pre-game list.
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