El Clasico: Watch out for ‘wounded’ Madrid, Barcelona coach warns players

Barcelona cruise past Inter without Messi

Rafinha, who filled in for Messi in the starting 11, and Jordi Alba provided the goals that gave the Spanish team control of their Champions League group with nine points after a third win in as many matches. "Our situation is not irreversible, we are in October".

Madrid have fallen to seventh place after back-to-back La Liga losses against Alaves and Levante.

Blasted in the Spanish media, Lopetegui has so far maintained the public support of players such as captain Sergio Ramos and heavyweights Marcelo and Isco.

"We must play with great confidence but the minimum of arrogance given the good spell we are going through".

To say that Madrid are finding it hard to come to terms with the summer departures of Ronaldo and equally legendary coach Zinedine Zidane is putting it mildly.

Barcelona will also be without Lionel Messi, who is mending a broken right forearm. You try to play the same as you normally do in a Clasico, but you can't.

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Barcelona coach, Ernesto Valverde will be without captain Lionel Messi after the Argentine global sustained a hamstring injury against Sevilla last weekend in the La Liga.

The Argentine is all-time top scorer in the fixture with 26 goals in 38 matches in all competitions and also has the most assists, with 14. "The crises in teams like Madrid are always blown out of proportion, and then the players step up. There were moments at the start of the season when Madrid was playing brilliantly". Luis Suarez, Arthur and Philippe Coutinho were all excellent in Messi's absence on Wednesday.

There are alternatives to Messi, with Ousmane Dembele the obvious replacement, although the French winger has suffered a drop in form after a positive start to the campaign and was on the receiving end of some boos from the crowd after replacing the Argentinian on Saturday.

"Of course it changes things for us, but it is a challenge for us to cover for him", Valverde said.

Dembele joined Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund for 105 million euros previous year but his first campaign was blighted by injury while doubts remain about the Frenchman's habit for losing possession.

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