MADRID (AFP) – Luis Suarez is free to make his long-awaited debut for Barcelona when the La Liga leaders travel to face Real Madrid in the first El Clasico of the season on Saturday.
Suarez has been restricted to a few friendly games for club and country since sealing a US$127m move from Liverpool after receiving a four-month ban for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup back in June.
The Uruguayan’s temperament will be tested by the red-hot atmosphere at the Santiago Bernabeu, but even on his debut Suarez could be overshadowed by teammate Lionel Messi.
The four-time World Player of the Year is just one goal away from matching the 251 goals Telmo Zarra scored for Athletic Bilbao between 1940 to 1955 to become the all-time leading goalscorer in La Liga.
And midfielder Andres Iniesta is hoping both will shine to continue Barca’s fine recent record at the Bernabeu, where they have won four of the last six league meetings.
Madrid have a World Cup star of their own making his bow in the Clasico in Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez.
More responsibility will be placed on Rodriguez’s shoulders as Gareth Bale misses out through injury.
However, the 23-year-old has begun to show signs of his form from Brazil in recent weeks, including a lovely assist for Cristiano Ronaldo’s opening goal as Madrid sealed their eighth consecutive win in all competitions with a 3-0 win over Liverpool on Wednesday.
Defender Sergio Ramos is a doubt as he has missed the last four games for club and country with a calf strain, but did return to training alongside his teammates on Thursday.