Real Madrid fans unhappy over choice of referee for El Clasico

Former Real Madrid chief Pedja Mijatovic says Gareth Bale should be dropped for tonight's Copa del Rey semi first-leg against Barcelona.

The Barcelona superstar suffered a thigh injury Saturday in the draw with Valencia but he practiced with his teammates Tuesday.

Barca boss Ernesto Valverde said he would not put the five-time Ballon d'Or victor at risk if he felt he could further injure himself and added he would make a final decision on Messi after consulting with the player and the club's medical team.

"We have one training session to go, so we'll see how he is and if he can finish it and then we will decide if he plays", said the Barca coach, whose side have already defeated Madrid 5-1 this season without Messi in the side.

"It's always good when the best players get to play every game, but whether or not he plays will not influence the way we prepare for the game at all", Solari told a news conference on Tuesday. "If Messi is fit he'll play and if he isn't in shape, he won't", commented Valverde.

Santiago Solari will be looking to become only the first Barcelona or Real Madrid manager in the 21st century to win his first El Clasico in the dugout, next to Zinedine Zidane.

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Ousmane Dembele, who also trained after recovering from two weeks out with an ankle sprain, has not been named in the squad.

Most notable among Real's squad alterations has been the evolution of Vinicius Junior, who scored his first La Liga goal in Sunday's 3-0 win over Alaves.

Barcelona are among the clubs to have been linked with a move for the 26-year-old, along with the likes of Manchester City and Juventus, and Bartomeu would be happy to negotiate a deal with opposite number Florentino Perez.

"Your morale is very important and they tend to play well here".

At left-back, Marcelo has been the starter in the Copa del Rey, yet Sergio Reguilon's form since the trip to Real Betis has been exceptional.

  • Lawrence Cooper