Luis Suarez has been cleared to play in Barcelona's upcoming post-international break against Real Madrid on 2 April after the former Liverpool star avoided a yellow card during the 2-2 draw with Villarreal on Sunday (20 March). The Uruguay international played at the Madrigal stadium knowing that one card would see him miss the second Clasico of the season due to suspension – with him having four cautions to his name in La Liga already this season.
Gerard Pique will also be available for Barcelona's encounter with their arch-enemies, somehow escaping a red card in the Villarreal game. The defender committed a 23rd minute handball when he was already on a booking for an earlier handball incident.
Fans of both Villarreal and Real Madrid questioned this decision on social media. However, Pique said the referee was spot on as his second handball was unintentional, also claiming his first booking was undeserved.
"My first [handball] wasn't one because the ball hit my chest," Pique said after the game as quoted by Marca. "The second one did hit my hand, but I couldn't do anything about it, so if the first one wasn't a booking then you can argue about the second."
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique decided to replace Pique with Jeremy Mathieu for the second-half to avoid any further controversy. The Catalans were two goals to the good and looked set to increase their lead at the top of La Liga to 11 points, following Atletico Madrid's Saturday loss to Sporting Gijon.
However, the hooking of Pique turned out to be a major turning point as Villarreal pulled two goals back in the second half to secure a point.
Pique said: "We threw away a game that we had in our hands, but we now have a lead of nine points, so I think the draw is a positive result."
Barcelona host third-placed Real Madrid after the international break in pole position to win another La Liga crown. Los Blancos are now ten points away from Barca following their 4-0 win over Sevilla.
Luis Enrique looks set to have his full squad to choose from in El Clasico, pending any injuries sustained in international games, with the exception of the long-term fitness worry Sandro Ramirez. Real Madrid saw the return of Karim Benzema at the weekend, and will go to the Nou Camp looking to avenge the 4-0 humiliation suffered at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this season.