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Central defender absences take center stage in el clásico

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Gerard Piqué is rushing to fitness, whereas Varane and Ramos are set to miss out

FC Barcelona v Sevilla: Copa del Rey Semi Final Second Leg Photo by Noelia Deniz/Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The potential absences, fitness, and overall health of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid’s top defenders are in question as el clásico draws near.

For Barcelona, Gerard Piqué is in a race for fitness ahead of the consequential La Liga clash. The defender has been out with a knee injury last month, but he is making an effort to be available for the big game.

However, it is understood that if Piqué were to be included in the matchday squad, it would be a last-minute decision. And, he would have to play through the pain barrier.

On the other hand, Ronald Araújo has returned after his injury layoff. He even got a last-minute assist off the bench in Barcelona’s win over Real Valladolid.

If Piqué and Araújo were both fully fit, perhaps they’d both start. Ronald Koeman uses three centerbacks in his system, so he could accommodate both. However, we don’t know if both, one, or neither of them will get the nod.

Meanwhile, for Madrid, Raphaël Varane will be out due to testing positive for COVID-19 and Sergio Ramos will be absent after sustaining an injury with the Spanish national team in the World Cup European Qualifiers.

It remains to be seen how Madrid will line up, but they used Eder Militão in conjunction with Nacho at the back in their 3-1 win over Liverpool in midweek.

The various absences in defense could portend a high-scoring affair, but then again, perhaps not. Both teams have coped well with the absences of their top defenders - at least to this point.