Barcelona's Franck Kessie factor could be key in the Clasico

Barcelona's Franck Kessie factor could be key in the Clasico

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The Ivorian midfielder may start with Frenkie de Jong out of action

Xavi will be without Frenkie de Jong for the second leg of the cup semi-final against Real Madrid. The Dutchman's absence adds to that of Pedri and further weakens Barça's midfield.

The Barça coach will have to decide whether to keep the four midfielders tomorrow or play with three strikers. The first option is more likely, as it has worked very well every time he has played against Real Madrid lately.

If he opts for this option, Franck Kessie will start alongside Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Gavi, who will play more advanced and on the left flank.

The Kessie factor has been very important in recent Clasicos for Barça and could continue to be so in the match that will define the second finalist of the Copa del Rey.

The Ivorian player, who has gone from strength to strength during the season, made the difference in the last league Clasico. He came off the bench in the second half and, in stoppage time, finished off a counter-attack to score Barça's second goal, giving the Blaugrana victory and leaving Real Madrid twelve points behind Xavi's side in the league standings. That was Barça's 3,000th goal at Spotify Camp Nou.

But Kessie had already been important in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals. On that day, Xavi had opted to start him to cover Pedri's absence and play alongside Busquets, De Jong and Gavi. 'El Presidente' was decisive in the action which led to the only goal of the match. He received a good through ball from Ferran Torres and was in front of Courtois. His shot could have been cleared by Courtois, but it fell to Militao, who put the ball into his own net.

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