Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic could miss the El Clasico showdown with La Liga leaders Real Madrid after suffering a calf muscle tear against BATE Borisov in the Champions League. Rakitic came off in the 20th minute of the Catalan giants' 3-0 victory at the Nou Camp on 4 November.
AS reported that the Croatia international could be sidelined for up to a month. The news is a major blow for Luis Enrique, who could also be without talisman Lionel Messi for the eagerly-anticipated encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu on 21 November.
Barcelona's official website said Rakitic had sustained a small tear in his right calf and would sit out the home match against Villarreal on 8 November as a result. Enrique bemoaned his team's injury curse and said Rakitic would be afforded as much time as he needed to recover.
"Whether he will be ready for the Real Madrid match depends on the doctors, but for now he is out of the next game," Enrique was quoted as saying by Uefa. "The most important thing is that he fully recovers. We are not lucky at the moment [with injuries] and it prevents us from resting players."
Earlier in the week, Catalan daily Sport reported that Messi, who has been sidelined for over a month with a knee injury, would not be fit in time for El Clasico. The report claimed the Argentine's recovery was progressing slower than expected, with his return to action now not expected until December.
Barcelona have won six of the eight matches they have played since Messi's injury, and Enrique backed his players to continue delivering in the absence of the four-time Ballon d'Or winner. "It is obvious that we miss Lionel Messi, but like I have always said, we have a lot of quality within the squad," he said after the win over BATE.
"We don't need to talk about Messi because we are playing well and winning." Barcelona are second in La Liga, level on points with leaders Real.