Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto are both in the Barcelona squad for Saturday’s crucial La Liga clash against Real Madrid at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium after returning from injury.
The two players are part of a strong 23-man squad for the match with only backup goalkeeper Neto and attackers Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho missing the game because of injury.
Pique has recovered from a knee problem and is back in the squad for the first time since the 3-0 Copa del Rey win over Sevilla at the start of March, while Sergi Roberto is back after suffering a recurrence of a thigh problem back in February.
The duo’s inclusion boosts manager Ronald Koeman’s defensive options ahead of the match. In contrast, Real Madrid has problems at the back with Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, and Dani Carvajal all out.
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Will Pique Start?
Koeman must now decide whether to start Pique in what is a crucial clash at the top of the table. Both teams need to win to keep their title hopes alive. Barca is in second place and just one point behind leaders Atletico Madrid, while Real Madrid sits third and two points behind the Catalans.
The Barca boss has deployed a three-man central defense in recent weeks to good effect with Oscar Mingueza, Frenkie de Jong, and Oscar Mingueza all featuring. Koeman could bring Pique back and allow De Jong to move to his preferred midfield position.
The 34-year-old has told TV3 he’s determined to play in the famous fixture. He explained: “The objective is to play against Real Madrid and I want to be involved as soon as possible. I’m focused on this.”
However, Ronald Araujo is also a defensive option for Koeman. The Uruguayan was a regular at the start of the season but has lost his place due to injury. However, the 21-year-old is also now fit and available and could get the nod on Saturday.
Barcelona’s Clasico Kit
Koeman is expected to make changes to his team after seeing his team struggle to a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Monday night, and the Dutchman’s Clasico teamsheet should make for interesting reading.
There will also be a change to the Barca kit for the match. The Catalans have released a special Clasico shirt for the game which will only be used in Saturday’s match against Real Madrid.
New president Joan Laporta has been happy to show off the special edition jersey.
The new kit has gone down well with fans, according to Mundo Deportivo. It’s already a best-seller which means supply is rapidly running ahead of the match. A victory for Barcelona is likely to increase sales further and could see the stock snapped up.
Three points for Barcelona would also give the Catalans another boost in the title race while hurting Los Blancos’ hopes of retaining the title at the same time. Once again the eyes of the world will be on the two rivals as they play out the latest installment of their rivalry on Saturday in Madrid.