Football

Boon for Barca

Enrique confirms Suarez will make debut in some capacity

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has confirmed that Luis Suarez will make his Barcelona debut during El Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu tonight.

The clash between Barca and Real Madrid has always been the biggest event on the La Liga calendar, but Suarez's return from his four-month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini at last summer's World Cup adds extra spice to an already highly-anticipated encounter.

The Barca coach now has a decision to make as to whether he starts his marquee signing (above) on the bench or goes with a three-pronged attack with Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi.

The head coach is highly unlikely to split the Argentinian and the Brazilian, who have scored 13 goals between them in the last five games, but he has revealed that Suarez will definitely feature in some capacity tonight.

"He will play some minutes," said Enrique, who will preside over his first Clasico since taking over as Barca coach at the end of last season.

"How many? That is the million-dollar question. It is an important event for him and he will have some time on the pitch."

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, meanwhile, believes Suarez's move to Barcelona for a club-record fee is a boost for La Liga, despite the damage he could cause to Real's title hopes.

Ancelotti insisted that he would be making no special plans for the Uruguayan, as his presence would not change how his side approach the game.

"I am not here to judge Luis Suarez. He has scored a lot of goals, but it doesn't change our tactics," said the Italian.

"For football, it is good news that Suarez can play in this league. I don't know if he will play because it is not my business.

"It is not my problem. Naturally, I have a lot of respect for Suarez's quality but, whether Suarez plays or not doesn't change their idea of how to play the game and doesn't change ours either."

While Suarez is in line to play his first El Clasico, Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta will be making his 30th appearance in the fixture at the Bernabeu.

The Spain international will be the man expected to supply the service to his three prolific teammates - Messi, Neymar and Suarez - and he admits the entire squad are excited about Suarez's availability.

"He's happy to be available and the rest of us are happy about it too," said Iniesta. "We hope he performs as well as he has always done."

ON THE BRINK

Away from the Suarez show, Messi is on the brink of making Primera Division history as he sits just one goal behind Telmo Zarra's record of 251.

The Bernabeu would be the perfect place for the 27-year-old to break the record and Iniesta would be delighted to see him do it, if only because a Messi brace would mean things are going well in the game.

"I just want to see him get past the record, that'd be a good sign for us and means we are in with a chance of winning," he said.

Barca currently sit at the top of the table, four points clear of Real who are third, and Iniesta is not losing focus on the task at hand amid all the hype surrounding the occasion.

"We will be going there with the intention of winning," he said.

"It'd be a big mistake to think that we've got a four-point lead and even if we lose, we'll still be top.

"We're just thinking about playing well, winning and stretching our lead in the table, which would be important, but not decisive at this stage of the season." 
- Wire Services.

"Clasicos have to be heated, enjoyable and the best show possible for the fans, but staying within the sporting parameters."

- Barca coach Luis Enrique, not worried that Luis Suarez's temperament could be tested by the pressure of making his bow in the biggest game in world football