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Feb 26, 2013

Real trio fit for Copa Clasico

Real Madrid travelled to Barcelona for Tuesday's Copa Clasico semi-final second leg without defenders Raul Albiol and Marcelo, but have Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane all available for selection.

• Cesc: Messi will answer on pitch
• Mourinho: I'm learning from Barca

With the tie finely balanced after last month's 1-1 first-leg draw in Madrid, coaches Jose Mourinho and Tito Vilanova have a number of selection issues to consider ahead of the game.

Madrid flew to Barcelona on Tuesday morning without flu-struck Albiol, while Marcelo was left behind for extra training to improve his fitness. Alonso, Benzema and Varane, who had all missed training recently with various injury issues, were on the plane, however, giving Mourinho plenty of options to think about.

Starting XI speculation in the Madrid media on Tuesday morning centred around whether the Portuguese coach would choose 'reborn' Kaka or out-of-form Angel Di Maria in attacking midfield. Varane's return to fitness means Sergio Ramos could possibly return at right-back after missing Saturday's 2-1 La Liga win over Deportivo La Coruna through suspension.

Mourinho had told reporters after training on Monday that he had not yet got around to thinking about his starting line-up.

"I do not know," Mourinho said. "It is not that I do not want to say, it is that I do not know. I have not thought about it yet. Normally I know, and I do not say. This time I do not know."

Barcelona, meanwhile, had a light training session on Tuesday morning at the Camp Nou, with all 23 first-team squad players coming through unscathed and available for selection. Stand-in coach Jordi Roura declined to name a match squad for the game and all players were sent away to rest.

Most of the talk in Catalonia on Tuesday morning centred around whether David Villa would be rewarded for his goalscoring performance in Saturday's 2-1 La Liga win over Sevilla with a starting spot. Cesc Fabregas was seen as the most likely to drop out, with Andres Iniesta then dropping back from the left wing to play in his more preferred 'interior' midfield-playmaking position.

Roura had said on Monday that the idea of playing a more conventional centre-forward such as Villa had been considered in his discussion with Vilanova, who remains in New York receiving medical attention.

"We have looked at everything and it could be an important variable," Roura said. "We do not rule it out. It all depends on each game. We have various tactical options."

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