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Friday 11. August 2017 - 14:27

Andres Iniesta returns for Barcelona clash with Real Madrid as Jesus Vallejo suffers injury

Andres Iniesta has given Barcelona a major boost ahead of the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid on Sunday [13 August], returning to training on Friday with the rest of his available teammates. Meanwhile, Los Blancos starlet Jesus Vallejo is expected to miss El Clasico after suffering a muscle injury.

Iniesta only made 33 appearances under former manager Luis Enrique last season after he was hit by a series of fitness problems.

The 33-year-old midfielder set alarms bells ringing at the Nou Camp on Thursday after Barcelona revealed that the captain didn't train with the rest of his teammates – just three days before the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup clash.

Barcelona said that Iniesta had been granted permission from Ernesto Valverde but there was still some uncertainty as the club failed to specify the reasons behind his absence.

However, Iniesta allayed any fears on Friday after being pictured back in training as the Catalans continue their preparations for the visit of Real Madrid.

The Spanish international should therefore be ready to feature in Valverde's starting midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are tipped to lead the attack while Gerard Deulofeu could be the chosen one to complete the attacking trident following the shocking departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain.

Thomas Vermaelen and Rafinha Alcantara are expected to be the only Barcelona absentees to face Real Madrid, with the latter having been out of action since undergoing a knee operation in April.

Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane is likely to be without Vallejo for the first leg of the Super Cup after the club revealed that young centre-back has suffered a muscle injury during their final preparations for the game.

"Following tests carried out on Jesús Vallejo at the Sanitas La Moraleja University Hospital, he has been diagnosed with a muscle strain in his left thigh. His recovery will continue to be assessed," the club have confirmed.

Vallejo, 20, has returned to Real Madrid this summer to fill the gap left by the departure of Pepe after an impressive loan spell at Eintracht Frankfurt. His absence shouldn't be a major concern for Zidane however as he also has Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Nacho to cover the position.

The boss, however, faces a dilemma over how he forms his midfield with Luka Modric suspended due to a red card picked up in the Spanish Super Cup played against Atletico Madrid three years ago.

Mateo Kovacic or new summer signing Dani Ceballos could replace the Croatia international if the Real Madrid boss decides to stick to the 4-4-2 formation that beat Manchester United in the Uefa Super Cup on Tuesday.

Zidane also has the option to return to a 4-3-3 formation if Cristiano Ronaldo is 100% ready to start. The reigning Ballon D'or only returned to training last week following his participation in the Confederation Cup with Portugal but did make a cameo appearance against United.

In that case, Isco could cover Modric's absence in the middle of the park, with Ronaldo forming an attacking trident alongside Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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