Real Madrid will be without Thibaut Courtois for a El Clasico clash that Carlo Ancelotti says is not “life or death”.
Courtois has been sidelined with sciatica, but Ancelotti this week stated he hoped his goalkeeper would return against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Los Blancos head coach Ancelotti on Saturday revealed the Belgium international will not feature in a mouthwatering battle between the top two in LaLiga.
“Courtois is quite well, he feels fine. [But] he has trained very little and is not comfortable,” said the Italian. “He is out for tomorrow.
“He will train more continuously next week. We will see for next Wednesday or Sunday, he just needs training.”
Andriy Lunin is set to deputise for the former Atletico Madrid and Chelsea keeper once again.
Meanwhile, centre-back Antonio Rudiger will face Barcelona wearing a mask after he required stitches due to the clash of heads he suffered while scoring a late equaliser in the midweek Champions League draw against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Madrid and fierce rivals Barca are level on points with seven wins from eight LaLiga matches, with Xavi’s side top on goal difference.
The champions have won five of the past six El Clasico showdowns, but the Catalan giants hammered them 4-0 in their last meeting in the capital in March.
Despite the fine margins in the league table, Ancelotti says it is not essential to come out on top when they lock horns for the first time this season.
He said: “I haven’t shown the players any videos to motivate them. They know their opponents well and last year’s game won’t affect it. This is another competition and another year.
“We hope to play a game that the whole world is going to see, and we want to show a good image and try to win it for our fans.
“It’s a special game, but not life or death. The season is very long. Although it’s clear that we would like to win.”