How Barcelona and Real Madrid should line up in El Clasico clash tonight
The Camp Nou clash could hand the Blaugrana a 12-point lead over Real in the LaLiga title race, with only 12 games left to play this season.
However, Xavi will be without key midfielder Pedri, who was bidding to return from a hamstring injury in time for the game amid contrasting reports over his fitness.
While Spanish newspapers Sport and Mundo Deportivo initially reported that the 20-year-old would be involved in El Clasico, Marca and AS painted a more pessimistic picture.
A big hint about Pedri’s availability came on Friday night when he withdrew from the Spain squad for internationals later this month. He was then omitted from Barca’s squad for tonight’s game.
Ousmane Dembele is ruled out for Barcelona after top scorer Robert Lewandowski was welcomed back from injury for last week’s win at Athletic Club. Uruguay defender Ronald Araujo is also back from suspension today.
Meanwhile, Real had been nervously waiting on Karim Benzema’s fitness once again after he picked up a knock in midweek.
The 35-year-old limped out of the Champions League last-16 second-leg victory over Liverpool shortly after scoring the winner and he then missed training on Friday. However, he is considered fit for El Clasico.
Ferland Mendy is back in the Madrid squad but David Alaba and Alvaro Rodriguez are unavailable.
Predicted Barcelona XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Araujo, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Gavi, Busquets, De Jong; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Torres.
Predicted Real Madrid XI (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Mendy; Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.