Antonio Rukavina & Ivan Rakitic
Ivan Rakitic (right) opened the scoring for Barcelona in their 2-2 draw against VillarrealReuters

Croatia boss Ante Cacic says the calf problem that ruled out Ivan Rakitic from his country's forthcoming international matches is not serious. The 28-year-old playmaker suffered the injury in Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Villarreal and underwent scans to identify the extent of the problem after joining up with his national team on 21 March.

The news raised fears Rakitic could miss the Clasico showdown against Real Madrid on 2 April, but Cacic insisted that the injury was not a major one.

"Rakitic will have further medical tests but our doctors are optimistic and he should return to normal work in Barcelona soon," the Croatia head coach was quoted as saying by ESPN. "He will be fit for El Clasico, no doubt. It is a minor injury, a partial calf rupture."

Rakitic, who opened the scoring for Barcelona against Villarreal, will return to the Catalan capital on 23 March to continue his recovery. He will miss Croatia's friendlies against Israel and Hungary. Rakitic's midfield partner Sergio Busquets has also pulled out of international duty with a broken finger.

Barcelona are 10 points ahead of Real Madrid in La Liga with eight games left in the season.

Real revival

Zinedine Zidane's side struck four past Sevilla, with the trident of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo all getting on the score sheet. Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague said the Sevilla performance, coming two weeks before El Clasico, was Real's best of the season.

Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Real Madrid are in good form heading into El ClasicoReuters

"It feels like a good point in the season for Real. Everybody is fit and they are all playing well, especially Karim Benzema, Keylor Navas and Casemiro," he wrote in his Sky Sports column. "They are too far away to win the league, but they seem to have been lifted by the fact Wolfsburg is the next team they have to face in the Champions League. It probably means they will be in the semi-finals and then they are getting closer and closer to glory."