Barcelona received a significant boost hours ahead of their match against Real Madrid as they recovered a handful of their injured players.
Included in the matchday squad list were Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski and Jules Kounde.
While the first two were expected to make the list, Kounde’s appearance is a surprise given it’s only been about three weeks since he picked up the injury in the match against Granada.
However, they are still without midfield pair Frenkie de Jong and Pedri.
The former had the better odds of possibly being able to make the match. But De Jong had some slight discomfort during training which ultimately ruled him out as Barcelona do not want to take any unnecessary risks with his recovery. The same can be said with regards to Pedri who has missed significant time out the last two seasons.
With the lack of depth in midfield, the return of either of the two would have been welcome news for Barcelona.
The trio who did make the cut, Lewandowski could start depending on what Xavi decides to do. In any case, he is only expected to play around 45-60 minutes. Should it be needed, Raphinha could have some minutes in the second half. Unless absolutely necessary, Kounde will likely remain on the bench.
Four points behind Girona, one behind Real Madrid, Barcelona are wisely thinking long-term with the recovery of Pedri and Frenkie de Jong and with the amount of minutes Raphinha, Lewandowski and Kounde could see in El Clasico.
As Xavi mentioned in his pre-match press conference, he isn’t going to play anyone who isn’t 100%. Though much of it will depend on the result late in the match. If Barcelona are trailing, expect to see Lewandowski and Raphinha if they aren’t already on the pitch.