Barca's Paco Alcacer to miss Clasico after picking up injury vs. Depor
Paco Alcacer will miss next weekend's Clasico after being taken off injured during Barcelona's 4-0 win against Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
After an impressive cameo off the bench at Villarreal last week, Alcacer was named in Ernesto Valverde's starting lineup for Barca's penultimate game of the year.
However, he was forced off after just 20 minutes of the game gone at Camp Nou with a muscle injury and replaced by Aleix Vidal.
"Alcacer will be out for three weeks after picking up a muscular injury in his left leg in the first half of the game at Camp Nou in the league against Deportivo," Barca confirmed in a brief statement.
A €30 million signing from Valencia last year, Alcacer has made 12 appearances for Barca this season, scoring 12 goals.
Valverde acknowledged the "setback" and will now have to decide how to complement Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in attack against Real Madrid next Saturday, with Ousmane Dembele still sidelined.
"It's a setback that we didn't expect. Overall the game turned out well but's a real shame about Paco,'' Valverde said.
"But we're going into [the Clasico] happy. We have a week to prepare for the game and the best way to approach the Madrid match was to put in the kind of performance we had today, secure three points and boost confidence and morale.
"We are in good shape but we know that we are in for a complicated game against a huge rival. We'll prepare for it well because we are determined to put in a good performance.''
Gerard Deulofeu is also out injured, so Barca may once again go with a four-man midfield, with Paulinho joining the usual trio of Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta.
Barca's comfortable win over Depor moved them six points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who leapfrogged Valencia, beaten at Eibar, on Saturday.
Real Madrid, who didn't play a league game this weekend due to their involvement in the Club World Cup, are 11 points off the pace in fourth going into the Clasico.
With Barca taking advantage of Real's participation in the FIFA Club World Cup, pundits are suggesting an away win in Madrid could effectively settle the title before the winter break.
But Valverde has no time for such claims, pointing to Atletico Madrid in second place as evidence of the varied challenges at hand.
"People mention the advantage we have over Real Madrid but they forget that Atletico are only six points behind us,'' he said.
"We have it pretty clear in our minds that this is a long competition. No team sews up the league in the first round of games.''
The 53-year-old also noted his side's increasingly remarkable tendency to strike the woodwork after five more shots hit the frame of the goal against Depor.
Luis Suarez and Paulinho managed two close-range finishes apiece but the tally could easily have been into humiliation territory but for slender margins.
Barca have hit the woodwork 26 times already this term, with Messi responsible for 14 of those after three more unsuccessful attempts.
"If we deliberately tried to hit the post, we wouldn't get to that figure,'' said Valverde.
"Fortunately, apart from hitting the post we're also scoring goals. That means we are regularly close to the goal and in position to score and that's good.''
Information from PA Sport was used in this story.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.