MADRID (Sporting Alert) — Karim Benzema and Pepe are both set to start for Real Madrid when they play host to Barcelona in the second El Clasico of the season tonight at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night.
Both players have been bothered by injuries, but manager Carlo Ancelotti has named them in his squad for the La Liga clash, which means that the players have recovered from the problems.
Benzema, who has scored in the last two Clásicos against Barcelona, is expected to join Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in the attack, while Portuguese defender Pepe is set to rejoin Sergio Ramos and perhaps Raphael Varane in the backline.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid hold a four point lead over their rivals, but Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has revealed that the defending champions will do everything possible to keep themselves in the title race.
“We should be thinking of us, rather than them. We have to be Barca, we have to be brave. If we aren’t, then we will have a bad time of it,” the Spanish international said.
“We have to play to win. When we’ve had that attitude, things have gone well for us.
“We can’t settle for anything other than a win – that has to be our mentality from now to Sunday, with no doubts at all.”
Real Madrid have been brutal in front of goal this season, with Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale and Cristiano combined to score 76 of Madrid’s 119 goals this season and Barcelona have called on their own strike force, led by Lionel Messi and Neymar to prove that its attack is just as good.
Ancelotti remains cautious as well: “You have to be careful against Neymar and Leo Messi.
“We have to defend together and stay compact.”
At the same time, the travelers know that its backline must remain solid if they want to leave the Bernabeu with anything.
Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino, who has been under pressure this season, has also called on his to team not to lose Sunday night, as it would be very difficult to haul back seven points.
“If we lose, it will be very difficult to bridge seven points,” Martino said.
“Not because we’re not capable, but because of how little there is left of the championship.”