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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has his XI for Camp Nou Clasico

The countdown for the first Clasico of the season is underway with Barcelona hosting Real Madrid at Camp Nou on Wednesday night. 

With the season almost at the halfway stage, Ernesto Valverde has had time to work on what his best team is. Arthur Melo and Ousmane Dembele are injured for this week's game and have had an affect on what has become the Gala XI in recent weeks.  

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At the start of the season, Barça had to use their squad. Not only was their attack absent -- Messi and Luis Suarez were both injured -- but there were problems everywhere. Goalkeeper Neto lost his battle with Ter Stegen before it started due to a broken bone in his hand. 

In defence, Umtiti has had knee problems and, more recently, Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba have . both had injuries. 

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Midfield is where Barça have the most options but the search for the ideal trio goes on. Even Sergio Busquets, usually a nailed on regular, has been on the bench at times this season. 

When the Clasico was supposed to be played on oct. 26, Semedo was a regular at right-back, Arthur was playing in midfield and Ivan Rakitic was invisible. Dembele was fighting with Griezmann for the final spot in the front three. 

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Two months and seven league games later, things have changed. Barca have won five games, drawn one and lost one. Messi has scored 10 goals and set up four more to move level with Benzema in the Pichichi. 

Ahead of the Clasico, Ter Stegen remains the No.1, while no one questions that Pique and Lenglet will start ahead of him. Alba's returned from injury to take his place at left-back but there's a question on the other flank. Will Semedo, fit again, replace Sergi Roberto or will the academy graduate keep his place? 

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Due to his versatility, Sergi Roberto could even play in midfield. It wouldn't be the first time in a Clasico. However, it seems that Rakitic is back in the team and he's likely to play alongside Busquets and Frenkie de Jong. 

The losers in midfield are the Arthurs: Arthur Melo and Arturo Vidal. The Brazilian is still injured, with an unknown return date, and the Chilean is being used as a backup player. 

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In attack, with Dembele injured, there's no debate. Griezmann has been in good form and looks more integrated in that front three alongside Messi and Suarez. 

The emergency options off the bench are Ansu Fati and Carles Perez. Both youngsters have proven themselves this season. 

WITNESS THE MAGIC OF THE BEST! Book your tickets here and enjoy Messi and company divine football from Camp Nou best seats as FC Barcelona take on Real Madrid in La Liga Round 9 tomorrow (20:00h. CET)! 

Source: Sport / Juan Manuel Díaz

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