Real chief makes decision on Lopetegui ahead of El Clasico

Real chief makes decision on Lopetegui ahead of El Clasico

Real chief makes decision on Lopetegui ahead of El Clasico

For the first time since 2007 club football's arguably the biggest game will not feature either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo yet Sunday's Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid will be as feisty as ever with plenty riding on it. Ahead of the big match at the Nou Camp, we have profiled three players who could step up and replace the void left my CR7 in the Real Madrid attack.

"Messi often gets us out of jail in hard games against low blocks and obviously we want him to get better as soon as possible".

Messi will return, in three weeks if his right arm heals as expected, but Ronaldo's permanent absence has weighed heavier with every chance missed.

There is nothing like a Real Madrid vs. Barcelona.

Real Madrid have struggled for goals, with Marcelo's drive in Saturday's 2-1 defeat by Levante the first they had scored in a club record eight hours of football without finding the net. Lopetegui has waited a long time to be at the centre of one of these collisions.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC, the Atletico Madrid striker said he's looking forward to watching the match and that Barcelona are still talented enough to win without their injured superstar. Madrid are in need of a win to move forwards.

Rafinha, who filled in for Messi in the starting 11, and Jordi Alba provided the goals that gave the Spanish team control of their Champions League group with nine points after a third win in as many matches.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane's last El Clasico ended in a 2-2 draw with Gareth Bale grabbing the spotlight with a sublime finish.

They included excellent stops to deny Luis Suarez and Clement Lenglet, while Philippe Coutinho hit the Inter crossbar midway through the second half.

Ronaldo's absence will unquestionably take some of the gloss off the occasion when the latest instalment of El Clasico plays out on Sunday; Madrid's hope is that it will not do the same to their performance.

"Of course it changes things for us, but it is a challenge for us to cover for him", Valverde said.

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