El Clasico

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Suarez double wins El Clasico at Real, sends Barca to Copa del Rey final

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Luis Suarez’s brace, the second goal a panenka penalty, gave Barcelona a 3-0 win at Madrid and a shot at its fifth-straight tournament title.

The victory came despite the hosts boasting a 14-4 advantage in shot attempts.

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Suarez’s 50th minute goal put Barcelona ahead in the game and level in the tie after a 1-1 first leg at the Camp Nou.

Away goals have a way of turning two-legged ties on their ear, and Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semifinal second leg between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Bernabeu is no exception.

Barca would’ve liked a bid to go up 2-0 on the day when Sergio Ramos took down Ivan Rakitic, but no call arrived for the visitors.

The Blaugranas got their insurance marker through Real defender Raphael Varane, who turned an Ousmane Dembele cross into his own goal.

And Suarez doubled his haul to complete the score line, with Barca now set to face either Valencia or Real Betis in search of its fifth-straight Copa del Rey.

Athletic Bilbao and Madrid FC are the only other sides to win four in-a-row.

Messi practices ahead of Copa ‘clasico’ against Real Madrid

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has returned to training, a day before Barcelona hosts Real Madrid in the first leg of the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.

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Messi was sidelined from Monday’s training session because of a right leg injury sustained in a Spanish league match on Saturday.

He re-joined his teammates on the practice field on Tuesday and showed no signs he was bothered by the injury. The media could only watch the first few minutes of the session, when players warmed up and played keep-away.

Coach Ernesto Valverde had said earlier Tuesday he would wait for the training session to end before deciding whether Messi will play on Wednesday at Camp Nou Stadium.

Messi doesn’t practice prior to El Clasico in Copa del Rey

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has not practiced with his teammates on Monday, raising doubts about his presence in the Copa del Rey match against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Messi hurt his right leg in the 2-2 draw against Valencia in the Spanish league on Saturday and remains doubtful for Barcelona’s home game against Madrid in the first leg of the Copa semifinals.

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Barcelona had not yet given full details about Messi’s condition, although reports said the injury wasn’t serious enough to keep him from facing Madrid at Camp Nou Stadium.

The injury appeared to happen when he was hit in the leg by Valencia defender Antonio Lato while they challenged for a ball in the second half on Saturday.

Messi missed Barcelona’s 5-1 league rout of Madrid in October because of a broken right arm.

He has scored at least a goal in nine straight games in all competitions and is the league’s leading scorer with 21 goals in 22 matches.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Suarez leads Barcelona in El Clasico rout of Real Madrid

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No Messi, no problem.

Barcelona beat bitter rivals Real Madrid 5-1 at the Nou Camp on Sunday in the latest edition of El Clasico.

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Philippe Coutinho grabbed the opener and Luis Suarez scored a hat trick to do the damage with Arturo Vidal adding a late goal, as the first El Clasico since 2007 without either Lionel Messi (injured) or Cristiano Ronaldo (sold in the summer to Juventus) turned out to be a routine win for Barca.

Real fought back in the second half but Marcelo’s goal wasn’t enough to stop their rot, with Karim Benzema guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance to make it 2-2.

With the victory Barcelona have moved back to the top of La Liga, while Real Madrid’s woes continue as Julen Lopetegui has now lost five of his last seven games in all competitions with just one win in that sequence. Real have now lost three-straight games in La Liga.

Barcelona led 2-0 at the break, as Coutinho opened the scoring. Jordi Alba’s fine run down the left caught out Real’s defense and his cross put the ball on a plate for Coutinho to slot home to make it 1-0.

Then came some El Clasico history on the half hour mark.

Suarez went down in the box after being clipped by Raphael Varane and after using VAR for the first time in El Clasico history, the officials awarded a penalty kick which Suarez dispatched just past Thibaut Courtois to make it 2-0.

After the break Real came flying out of the traps after a tactical switch saw them move into a 3-5-2 formation with Lucas Vazquez on and Varane removed. Soon, it was 2-1.

Marcelo controlled and finished with his right foot to give Real hope of mounting a comeback. And they came so close to making it 2-2 as Luka Modric sent an effort off the post which rolled across the line and out.

Barca almost went 3-1 up as Sergi Roberto found Suarez but his effort smacked the post.

Late on Benzema headed over a glorious chance from close range after a fine cross from Vazquez as Real continued to knock at the door.

But it was Suarez who delivered his second and Barcelona’s third, with the Uruguayan scoring a sublime header to make it 3-1 and end any hope of a Real comeback.

Suarez then secured his hat trick with a cheeky chip over Courtois to score his ninth goal in nine La Liga games against Real Madrid. And Vidal made it 5-1 late on as Real totally fell apart and Lopetegui’s future will surely be in huge doubt just a few months after taking over.

LIVE, El Clasico: Barcelona v. Real Madrid

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Barcelona host Real Madrid at the Nou Camp on Sunday (kick off, 11:15 a.m. ET) as the bitter rivals clash for the first time in La Liga this season.

[ LIVE: Barcelona v. Real Madrid

This will be the first El Clasico since 2007 without either Lionel Messi (injured) or Cristiano Ronaldo (sold to Juventus) as the likes of Luis Suarez, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Philippe Coutinho will be the stars taking center stage.

Both clubs have had their struggles this season but Barca will go back to the top of La Liga with a won, while Real currently sit in ninth place and Julen Lopetegui badly needs a win after a run of defeats in recent weeks.

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while below are the two starting lineups.