Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has been forced to prepare for the second El Clasico of La Liga on Saturday (2 April) without most of their key stars due to their international commitments. Yet the Spanish boss is still expected to be able to deploy his strongest line-up at the Camp Nou after their major stars like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar avoided any mishaps.
IBTimes UK looks at the injury situation at the Camp Nou ahead of a weekend El Clasico that will come just three days before their crucial Champions League quarter-finals first legs with Atletico Madrid.
Luis Enrique has suffered two big blows in his defence during the last week ahead of the last part of the season after both Jeremy Mathieu and Adriano suffered injuries.
The Frenchman Mathieu is expected to be out of action for up to eight weeks as he has undergone a knee operation after he tore a medial meniscus during France's 4-2 victory over Russia on 29 March. Adriano, meanwhile, is going to miss both the game against Real Madrid and the first leg with Atletico Madrid after picking an injury while training with the club.
The Barcelona duo have joined absentee Sandro Ramirez, who is expected to be back available soon after he picked a muscle injury earlier on March.
Jordi Alba was labelled as a doubt for El Clasico after Spanish international sprained his ankle while playing a friendly against Romania. Yet, Mundo Deportivo and Sport later played down Luis Enrique concerns after claiming that Barcelona first-choice left-back will be ready to host Real Madrid on Saturday.
Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets sparked doubts over their participation in El Clasico after being unable to play with their national teams due to different fitness issues.
The captain, however, claimed on Wednesday that he is ready to return to action after he also missed the last game against Villarreal, while his two Barcelona teammates will also be able to partner him in the middle of the park against Real Madrid after they returned to training earlier this week.
Rafinha Alcanta, who is yet to play for Barcelona since September due to a serious knee injury, also took advantage of the international break to continue his rehabilitation to full fitness by playing with the Brazil Under-23 side.
Claudio Bravo; Alves, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Alba; Sergio Busquets, Iniesta; Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
Luis Enrique's potential dilemas
Dani Alves or Aleix Vidal
Alves, having not returned to Barcelona trainings until later in the week following his international commitment with Brazil, could leave his place for Aleix Vidal as the former Sevilla full-back is fresh to play after not being included in the Spanish squad. The rest of the line-up, with the MSN untouchable up front, is expected to have all the usual starters, especially after the injuries of Adriano and Mathieu had reduced Enrique's options in the Barcelona back-line.
Rotation ahead of Atletico Madrid game
Luis Enrique will have his strongest XI available for the game against Real Madrid as Mathieu and Adriano were not expected to be in the line-up anyway. Yet, he may be temp to rest some players for the crucial Champions League game against Atletico Madrid.