Real Madrid will not be weakened by the absence of Gareth Bale because they have world class players in every position, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has said.
Barca go into Saturday’s Clasico at the Camp Nou six points behind Madrid, whose coach Zinedine Zidane will be without some of his star names.
Bale is expected to be out until April with an ankle injury, while Toni Kroos is sidelined and Casemiro and Pepe are only just coming back from injuries.
In contrast, Barcelona have been boosted by the return of captain Andres Iniesta, while Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba are also available to start after suffering knocks at the weekend.
“Bale’s an important player for his team,” Luis Enrique said at his prematch news conference. “He performs at a great level and is recognised accordingly.
“But I won’t speak about injuries because it happens to all of us throughout the season.
“It’s logical, given the calendar, that in football there are injuries — and Madrid still have world class players in attack and all over the pitch.”
Madrid won at the Camp Nou at the end of last season and Luis Enrique said: “We’re going to see the same Madrid that we’ve seen under Zidane.
“They are a well organised team defensively, a team that doesn’t need the ball to compete because their dangers are in their transitions and set plays.
“They have no problem leaving the ball to the opposition. They take advantage of dead balls, have few touches and are effective with decisive players in final third.”
The Barcelona coach said he would sleep well before the game, adding that “this isn’t my first Classico and added that he did not believe a defeat would be a pivotal moment.
“It’s the 14th game of the season, so the result isn’t decisive for the title,” he said.
“Playing at home against Real Madrid, it doesn’t matter if we are 100, 25 or one point behind. It’s a game we want to win, a special game to be enjoyed by the team and the fans.”
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