The second "El Clasico" of the 2021-22 La Liga season is fast approaching, and both teams are determined to come out on top. Despite having won the past four La Liga encounters against Barcelona, Real Madrid will not underestimate their opponents especially with their injury troubles..

Ferland Mendy has already been ruled out for the match on Sunday evening due to a tear in his adductor muscle. Nacho Fernandez will likely be called up to fill in for Mendy, after showing Carlo Ancelotti that he is up to the task in the Champions League match against PSG last week.

However, there is still a doubt over Karim Benzema's fitness, with the Frenchman scheduled to undergo tests on Friday. He was seen limping out of Real Madrid's victory over Mallorca on Monday, and it is still unclear if he will be able to start in the clash against their biggest rivals.

The Clasico on Sunday will be very important for both teams, with Real Madrid looking to stamp their dominance in the league after having just extended the gap to ten points from second-placed Sevilla. Meanwhile, Xavi Hernandez has managed to bring the Blaugrana up to third place, and they are already seeing Sevilla within striking distance. A victory over the league leaders will surely shift the momentum in favour of the Catalan side.

That said, Ancelotti knows that it is crucial to play with the best team available. Unfortunately, Benzema is simply irreplaceable up front. Luka Jovic has not been able to take advantage of his previous opportunities to gain the confidence of the Real Madrid faithful, while Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Mariano Diaz are not exactly able to reassure anxious fans either.

On the upside, it seems as though Rodrygo Goes will be able to play, with his foot injury proving to be less serious than initially thought. Eder Militao is also back to full fitness after having been sidelined earlier this week after feeling unwell.

El Clasico is always highly anticipated, and as the season draws closer to the finish line, much more than pride is at stake for both sides.

Karim Benzema
Hat-trick star: Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema celebrates AFP / JAVIER SORIANO