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Rival watch: Barcelona could be handed a major injury boost before El Clasico



Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid and Barcelona are set to lock horns with each other for the first time this season as they meet at Santiago Bernabeu this weekend.

It is a must-win game for Los Blancos, who have slipped to second in the league table, trailing their arch-rivals on goal difference.

However, heading into this game, Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been handed a major blow, as opposition defender Jules Kounde has returned in contention to feature in this El Clasico.

This has been reported by SPORT, who suggests the defender has made a quicker recovery than expected. He is in a position to even feature in Barcelona’s upcoming UEFA Champions League affair against Inter Milan. But the club have opted not to take any risks.

Kounde had picked up an injury during the international break. He has since missed out on quite three matches, including the crucial UCL encounter against Inter Milan, where Barça fell to a 1-0 defeat, while his involvement in El Clasico was also a major doubt.

The Frenchman, though, is now reported to be in contention to make his return against Real Madrid this weekend. The report suggests the defender could start for Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu, featuring as a right-back.

Kounde will be tasked with the responsibility of stopping Vinicius Jr out wide. His pace and athleticism on the flanks could serve as a breath of fresh air for a Barça team that has lacked a proper option at right-back in recent weeks, especially with Hector Bellerin also out injured.

While Kounde could return, Barcelona will still be without Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen and Memphis Depay for the game. Franck Kessie also remains a doubt for the trip to Real Madrid.

Ancelotti & co., meanwhile, do not have any pressing injury concerns heading into the game, with the manager expecting to have Thibaut Courtois back in time for El Clasico.

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Real Madrid News

Official: Real Madrid starting lineup against Elche



Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

The Santiago Bernabeu is ready for the first time in a fortnight as Real Madrid are set to host relegation-threatened Real Valladolid for gameweek 27 of La Liga. The gap between them and Barcelona was increased to 15 yesternight, and los blancos will be looking to cut it down to 12 to scarce the tiniest bit of hope of defending their league crown.

Carlo Ancelotti has opted to use a highly attacking starting lineup for the clash, with Karim Benzema spearheading the front-three. He is flanked by Marco Asensio on the right while Vinicius Jr retains his place on the left.

Rodrygo also gets the nod to start, probably as an attacking midfielder in what looks like a 4-2-3-1.

Aurelien Tchouameni has been given the nod in midfield, with Toni Kroos forming the double pivot alongside him.

With Antonio Rudiger, Ferland Mendy, and Nacho out injured, Eduardo Camavinga gets the license to start as the left-back, while Lucas Vazquez flanks the defence from the right. The usual suspects — Eder Militao and David Alaba — start in central defence.

Thibaut Courtois was a doubt heading into this game, but has been given the medical greenlight to take his place as the goalkeeper.

Madrid XI: Courtois; Vazquez, Militao, Alaba, Camavinga; Tchouameni, Kroos; Asensio, Rodrygo, Vinicius; Benzema

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