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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo expected to start El Clasico against Barcelona

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to start against Barcelona in El Clasico, live on Sky Sports Football, after recovering from his recent knock in the FIFA Club World Cup, according to Guillem Balague.
Ronaldo missed training with Real Madrid earlier this week after sustaining a calf problem in his side's 1-0 win over Gremio in Abu Dhabi.
Madrid host bitter rivals Barcelona on Saturday in the first El Clasico of the season and Balague expects Ronaldo to start at the Bernabeu, possibly alongside Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
"It seems like he is going to okay," said Balague. "You won't be surprised to hear that some of the niggling injuries that the players have seem to disappear just before a Clasico. He should be okay, they all expect.
"It will be interesting which choice [Zinedine] Zidane goes with, not such much with Cristiano or Benzema, but who will be next to them - Isco or Bale?
"If Gareth Bale feels like he is 100 per cent, he may actually be the surprise name in the line-up. Otherwise it will of course be Isco and the usual suspects.
La Liga leaders Barcelona are currently 11 points ahead of fourth-place Real Madrid in the race for the title and Balague has been impressed with Lionel Messi's exceptional goalscoring record, despite his deeper role this season.
"Quite clearly the absence of Neymar meant that he wanted to take more part in the build-up," said Balague. "That meant playing more centrally.
"That affected everything else. Luis Suarez suddenly had two or three defenders around him, not much space.
"With Messi playing centrally there was no wide players apart from the full-backs going forward. On the right-hand side they don't have that kind of full-back so it was a little unbalanced.
"This is a Messi that drops deep, wants the ball, sometimes far too deep, becomes a little bit like [Andres] Iniesta or Xavi - but he is still scoring as much as Messi normally does."


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