Rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid face off in clasico
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In Monday's highly-anticipated clasico at Barcelona's Camp Nou, Real Madrid's French striker Karim Benzema (picture left) will replace Argentina's injured Gonzalo Higuain. Both teams enter into clash in fine league form.
AFP - Real Madrid's French striker Karim Benzema will replace Argentina's injured Gonzalo Higuain in Monday's clasico at Barcelona, Spanish media reported.
Medical tests carried out on Monday morning in Barcelona confirmed that Higuain has not recovered from a back muscle injury which he suffered in the November 20 5-1 thrashing of Athletic Bilbao and will not be able to play, the online edition of sports daily Marca reported.
The 22-year-old missed Real's 4-0 Champions League thrashing of Ajax on November 23.
Real go into the fixture one point ahead of Barcelona, whose double victory in the fixture last year was crucial in determining the outcome of La Liga, which they retained by the margin of one point.
The presidents of Real Madrid and Barcelona however both played down the importance of the encounter at a rare joint news conference.
"It is an important match but it will not be determinant. It is not today that the championship will be decided but obviously we must win," said Barcelona president Sandro Rosell.
"I agree with Rosell. After this match which seems like it is the end of the world, a new day will come and everything will return to normal," added Real president Florentino Perez.
"This is a match that generates interest beyond our borders and we should continue to feed that with a clean and beautiful game," he added.
Almost 1,000 members of the press, including journalists, photographers, camaramen and technicians, from 159 media outlets from 28 nations have been accredited for the match at Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium.
Both teams head into Monday's match in fine form, having demolished opponents in their previous league matches last weekend.
Real thrashed Athletic Bilbao 5-1 on November 20 to maintain their perfect winning home form so far this season while Barcelona routed minnows Almeria 8-0 to equal the biggest ever away win in La Liga.
The return clasico of the season is scheduled for April 17.