Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has called up 23 players for Sunday’s crunch Clasico clash against bitter rivals Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in La Liga.
Left-back Jordi Alba is included in the squad after shrugging off an ankle issue, but Ronald Araujo, Pedri, Martin Braithwaite, and Ousmane Dembele remain on the injured list and are not included.
The inclusion of Alba will be a boost and Ronald Koeman confirmed in his pre-match press conference the left-back is fit and hinted he would start. He told reporters, “It’s true he had some discomfort. He’s trained well and he’s ready to play.”
Attackers Ansu Fati and Sergio Aguero are both included after successfully returning from injury. Fati is expected to make just his second La Liga start of the season, but Aguero may have to settle for a place on the bench once again.
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Koeman: Barca Don’t Fear Real Madrid
Barcelona coach Koeman has yet to win a Clasico since taking charge of the Catalan giants in the summer of 2020 but told reporters at his news conference ahead of the game that his team do not fear Los Blancos.
“I don’t think there is [a big difference between the two teams]. I don’t think it’s useful to talk about things like this,” he said. “There is a long season ahead of us after this. The game against Bayern was completely different. It’s true that we are on the right path and we know the result tomorrow is so important. We will play without fear and we are very keen to get going.”
Barca head into the match after morale-boosting victories over Valencia in La Liga and Dyamo Kiev in the Champions League. Another victory on Sunday would see the Catalans leapfrog Carlo Ancelotti’s side in the table after nine games played.
Pique Ready To Enjoy El Clasico
Defender Gerard Pique knows all about playing in El Clasico and has been in relaxed mood ahead of the fixture. The center-back scored Barca’s winning goal last time out against Dynamo Kiev and is looking forward to the fixture, as reported by Diario Sport.
“I’m sure we’re going to have a good time. In a Clasico the result is more than three points. Beating the eternal rival gives you a lot of encouragement, strength, confidence,” he said. “If you win a Clasico it gives you all this to face the next matches. You send a message that you can beat Real Madrid and that you can compete for LaLiga. In a Clasico it does not matter how you come, there are no favorites. The Clasico is totally separate. We have gone through some moments of crisis, but now we are recovering and up in the league.”
Pique is expected to start the game in central defense with Eric Garcia expected to replace Clement Lenglet and partner the center-back with Araujo out injured. Garcia missed the win over Dynamo Kiev due to suspension but should make his Clasico debut at the Camp Nou.