Barcelona players to be given a six-day break
What's the story?
The Barcelona stars will head off for a six-day Christmas break following the big game against Real Madrid. According to Barcelona-based outlet Sport, the players will be off from December 24th until the 30th.
The South American players will be given a further three-day off as they have a longer distance to travel back home. Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Javier Mascherano will be the prime benefactors of the extended break and will return on January 2nd. Paulinho and Rafinha, however, are not expected to travel to Brazil and hence, they will return on December 30th along with the others.
In case you didn't know...
Despite the criticism and political tension surrounding the club, Barcelona's brilliant start to the season has ensured that they head into the Clásico with an 11-point lead over Real Madrid. A victory at the Bernabéu will more or less mean Real Madrid will be out of contention as they'll have a 14-point gap to make up. It'll round-off what has been a remarkable first-half to the season for Barcelona.
The heart of the matter
The vacation comes as a much-needed relief for Ernesto Valverde's men who, despite their scintillating form this season, have been plagued by injuries to key players. Andrés Iniesta, Luis Suárez and Javier Mascherano among others, have all suffered injuries at some point of the season or other. On the other hand, Paco Alcácer and Samuel Umtiti are currently nursing injuries while Ousmane Dembélé and Gerard Deulofeu only returned to training recently.
El Clasico. The big one. Barcelona's vacation will be better if they can avoid a defeat and keep their unbeaten run going. A win for Madrid will give them some hope, but there's still a long way to go.
The vacation will serve the Barcelona players with a much-needed break as they seek to rest and replenish before returning to continue and maintain their current league form and mount a title challenge on all three fronts. With Champions League returning in February as well, the Blaugrana need their players to be in peak condition.