TEAM NEWS: Ronaldo out of the starting XI in Clasico clash

Charlie Scott
March 2, 2013
TEAM NEWS: Ronaldo out of the starting XI in Clasico clash

Real Madrid makes a number of changes to its starting XI for this afternoon's Liga clash with Barcelona, as Cristiano Ronaldo is rested ahead of the team's midweek Champions League match against Manchester United.

Alvaro Morata leads Madrid in attack, with just four players from the midweek Copa del Rey win keeping their place in Jose Mourinho's starting line-up.

The young forward is supported by Karim Benzema, Jose Callejon and Kaka, while Luka Modric and Michael Essien replace Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso in Madrid's midfield pivot.

Mourinho names a strong defense, with Sergio Ramos moving out to right back and Pepe partnering Raphael Varane in the middle. Fabio Coentrao is chosen ahead of Marcelo at left back for los Merengues.

Winger Angel Di Maria misses out through suspension after being sent off against Deportivo La Coruna.

Jordi Roura, meanwhile, has picked a near full-strength side for Barcelona, although Xavi does miss out after picking up a hamstring injury on Tuesday.

He is replaced by Thiago in midfield, while Lionel Messi starts alongside Pedro and David Villa in attack.

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1):
  Lopez; Ramos, Pepe, Varane, Coentrao; Modric, Essien; Callejon, Kaka, Benzema; Morata

Subs: Adan, Khedira, Ronaldo, Ozil, Carvalho, Arbeloa, Higuain

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Thiago, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Villa

Subs: Pinto, Puyol, Adriano, Song, Cesc, Alexis, Tello

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