DPA/ Barcelona, Spain
La Liga’s return after the international break has been overshadowed by talk of next week’s Clasico being moved because of instability in Catalonia.
Leaders Real Madrid face Real Mallorca tomorrow looking to extend their lead ahead of the derby clash with bitter rivals Barcelona, scheduled for October 26.
Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona play at Eibar tomorrow, although focus is on the possible postponement of the Clasico.
La Liga requested on Wednesday the game be switched to the Santiago Bernabeu instead of being played at the Camp Nou, with riots in Barcelona after the recent jailing of nine Catalan separatist leaders.
However reports in Spain say both Barcelona and Madrid rejected the proposal, with Marca saying Wednesday December 18 is a possible new date for the game to be hosted.
Zinedine Zidane’s side will try to push concerns about the Clasico aside to focus on their trip to Mallorca.
They will likely be without Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, who suffered injuries on international duty, joining Lucas Vazquez, Toni Kroos, Nacho Fernandez and Marco Asensio on the sidelines.
Madrid’s injuries mean midfielder Fede Valverde is likely to continue in the middle, with the Uruguayan drawing praise in recent weeks for his impressive displays.
Striker Karim Benzema has also been in fine form, winning the club’s player of the month award for September.
“Right now, I feel very good, like the whole team,” said Benzema. “Bit by bit we are improving and will soon be playing at a very high level in order to win every match.”
Barcelona have defensive problems for the visit to Eibar, with Gerard Pique and youngster Ronald Araujo suspended and Samuel Umtiti injured.
Clement Lenglet will return from his own suspension and likely line up alongside Jean-Clair Todibo.
Coach Valverde had some better news at left-back, with Jordi Alba available again, while Junior Firpo also returned to training.
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