Injured Barcelona Duo To Return in Time for El Clasico: Report

Gerard Pique

Getty Barcelona's Spanish defender Gerard Pique (L) talks with Real Madrid's Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 1, 2020

Barcelona duo Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto are both expected to return from injury and be available for selection for the Clasico clash against Real Madrid at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium on April 10.

Coach Ronald Koeman wants both players to start against Los Blancos and could give the two players minutes against Real Valladolid on April 5 to ensure they are ready for the Clasico, according to Jordi Gil at Diario Sport.

Pique missed three months of action earlier in the season with a knee injury and picked up another knee problem in the Copa del Rey semi-final win over Sevilla. Roberto has been out since suffering a recurrence of a thigh injury against Granada in February.

Gil also reports that Koeman does not expect to have either Ansu Fati or Philippe Coutinho available for the trip to Real Madrid. The two players are both on their way back from knee surgery but will not be rushed.

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Crucial Clasico Clash

The game between Real Madrid and Barcelona always attracts plenty of excitement and headlines around the globe and could once again play a role in the destination of the 2020-21 La Liga title.

The two rivals remain in contention to be crowned champions despite being far from their best this season. Atletico Madrid top the table by four points from Barcelona with 11 games left to play but have seen their lead cut in recent weeks and were dumped out of the Champions League on Wednesday by Chelsea.

Koeman’s Barcelona have gone on a 17-game unbeaten run in La Liga which has helped to reel Atletico in. The Catalan giants still have to play Atletico again in the league with the two teams set to meet at the Camp Nou on May 9.

Yet Real Madrid are not out of it yet either. Los Blancos are just two points behind Barca and can leapfrog their rivals in the table with a victory in El Clasico. Zinedine Zidane’s side won 3-1 at the Camp Nou back in October.

Barca Defense Back to Full Strength

The return of Pique and Roberto would mean Koeman’s defense would finally be back to full-strength and give the coach plenty to think about regarding his starting XI to play Real Madrid.

The Barca defense has been disrupted by injury throughout the season and been guilty of some costly mistakes but has improved in recent weeks, particularly since Koeman switched system and employed three center-backs.

The switch in system has seen Barca keep clean sheets in four of the team’s last six matches in all competitions. The only two goals the Catalan giants have conceded in that stretch have both come from the penalty spot against Paris Saint-Germain and Huesca.

Yet Barca will need to maintain the defensive improvements if they are to beat Real Madrid and pip Atletico to the title. Koeman’s side have already been beaten four times in La Liga this season and will know there is now little room for error if they are to finish top of the table.

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