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Is El Clasico 2017 the perfect fixture for Barcelona after Champions League exit?

Luis Enrique is already looking ahead to Sunday’s clash

FC Barcelona v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Luis Enrique was quick to move on after watching Barcelona knocked out of the Champions League at Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

This time there was no remuntada, no “second miracle” - Barca threw everything at the Italian champions, but could not find a way past their rock-solid defence.

Speaking after the game, Lucho couldn’t hide his disappointment but was quick to move on and feels Sunday’s trip to the Bernabeu is the perfect fixture for Barca.

“After a defeat like this, it’s difficult to wake yourself up,” he told a press conference.

“But we have the best motivation a Barcelona fan can have – which is visiting the home of our eternal rivals.

“As I said as a player, there is no better place to go for a Barca fan or player than the Bernabeu.

“Obviously it will be difficult, with a special atmosphere, but it is a marvellous stimulus for us.

“So it will be difficult to revive the players, but very easy to motivate them.”

With La Liga at stake, motivation really should not be a problem and may also be helped by the fact Real Madrid played extra-time in midweek against Bayern Munich, a factor which may come into play during what is sure to be an intense 90 minutes at the Bernabeu.

Barca can also take heart from their recent record in the Spanish capital against their biggest rivals. They have won five of their last eight visits to the Bernabeu, their last trip an unforgettable 4-0 win.

Like Barca, Madrid have wobbled in recent weeks. They looked certain to beat Atletico Madrid until Antoine Griezmann popped up with a late winner in the derby.

Los Blancos also went behind twice to struggling Sporting last time out before managing to sneak all three points thanks to Isco’s late strike.

Injuries are also a factor, Gareth Bale returned to Real Madrid training on Thursday but remains a doubt while Raphael Varane and Pepe are both still out.

Defensively Madrid cannot compare to the might of Juventus, Keylor Navas has endured a shaky season and hasn’t kept a clean sheet since January.

Barca will need to improve their finishing however, and fast, in 19 shots on targets against Juve the Blaugrana managed just one on target.

There will be no Neymar either, of course, so the onus will be on Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez while Ivan Rakitic has urged Barca to win the game for the suspended Brazilian.

"In the past we have already shown that we can also win when Neymar isn't playing," he told La Liga World.

"Of course, it would be much better to have him with us, because he is one of the two or three best players in the world.

"We have a lot of confidence and we have a very strong team. We want to show Neymar that when he is not with us we can still do it, and hopefully we can take a victory for him."

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