Ivan Rakitic wants Barcelona to beat Real Madrid for suspended Neymar
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 20/04/17 9:03am
Ivan Rakitic says Barcelona want to win Sunday's clash with Real Madrid for Neymar, who misses El Clasico through suspension.
Barcelona will travel to the Santiago Bernabeu for El Clasico, which is live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 7pm on Sunday, without Neymar, who serves the second game of a three-match suspension for sarcastically applauding his red card against Malaga.
While the Brazilian will be a huge miss for Barca, Rakitic says Luis Enrique's side are confident winning without him.
"I don't think it needs repeating that he is an important player," Rakitic told La Liga World.
"That [Neymar's suspension] is not good is so, but it is what it is. We need to understand the situation and push on.
"In the past we have already shown that we can also win when Neymar isn't playing. Of course, it would be much better to have him with us, because he is one of the two or three best players in the world.
"We have a lot of confidence and we have a very strong team. We want to show Neymar that when he is not with us we can still do it, and hopefully we can take a victory for him."
Barcelona go into Sunday's hotly-anticipated match three points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid having played a game more, but victory for the visitors would certainly reignite the title race.
Last season, Barca claimed and emphatic 4-0 victory over Real at the Bernabeu thanks to goals from Luis Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta, and Rakitic says they will be going all out for victory again.
"Knowing the situation we are in, we go to Madrid wanting to win that game," Rakitic added.
"We need it and we go there with a lot of confidence. In the last few years the games there have been very good and we want to repeat that this year."
However, Barcelona's form this season has not quite lived up to the heights of previous seasons, and head coach Enrique has announced that he will not be in charge at the Nou Camp next season.
Despite the difficulties they've faced this season, Rakitic has urged his side to forget the past and look forward as they look to finish the season strongly.
"Of course the season could have been better," he said. "We have dropped points where maybe we shouldn't have, but that's football.
"Sometimes big things happen to you because of small details. Now we have to pick ourselves up and look forward. What has happened is already behind us and the important thing is to improve together, in the way we always do."
Watch Real Madrid v Barcelona live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 7pm on Sunday.