Madrid, Nov 7 (IANS) Spanish football giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona both face vital matches on Sunday ahead of the international break and the “Clasico” between the two sides to be played when the La Liga returns to action on November 21.
Barcelona, who are without key players Ivan Rakitic, Lionel Messi and Rafinha through injury and Javier Mascherano through suspension face an in-form Villarreal in the Camp Nou Stadium, while Real Madrid have to travel to face Sevilla, a side smarting after consecutive defeats, but with the talent to make Madrid suffer, reports Xinhua.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique’s side has improved in recent weeks and all but sealed their qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday night with a 3-0 win at home against Belarusian side BATE Borisov, thanks to goals from strikers Neymar and Luis Suarez.
That deadly duo will continue in attack, while Claudio Bravo replaces Ter Stegen in goal and Gerard Pique, rested in midweek, will also be back in central defence.
It has also been a difficult week for Real Madrid with rumours of star striker Cristiano Ronaldo preparing a possible move to French side Paris Saint Germain and forward Karim Benzema spending a night in the cells of a Paris police station amid allegations of his involvement in a blackmail plot against French international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
While it looks as if Benzema will face charges over the case, he has recovered from his muscle injury and could return against Sevilla, while Ronaldo is certain to start. Meanwhile, playmaker James Rodriguez should be back and striker Gareth Bale is also available after recovering from his calf injury, although he is unlikely to play from the start given his long-standing calf problems.
Sevilla, meanwhile, have extended the contract of in-demand Polish midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak and will be looking to give their fans something to cheer after a 3-1 home defeat against English club Manchester City, which all but ended their chances of making the last 16 of the Champions League.