El clásico feels the pain of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo absence

Barcelona host a struggling Real Madrid but the absence of the world’s best players marks a dimming of this game’s star power

Julen Lopetegui will make it to the clásico between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday but, for the first time in more than a decade, Lionel Messi will not – and nor will Cristiano Ronaldo. This is the Madrid manager’s 137th day in charge and, whistled on Tuesday night after his team finally broke a five-game winless run, it could also be his last.

Asked on Tuesday if their coach would still be on the bench for Sunday’s game, Madrid’s director of institutional affairs, Emilio Butragueño, mumbled “yes, yes”, despite having just witnessed an unconvincing 2-1 win over Viktoria Plzen.

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