Sports

Security concerns overshadow Messi's Clasico return

Madrid,November 20:  An unprecedented level of security will be put in place for Real Madrid's huge clash with Barcelona on Saturday in response to the deadly attacks on Paris a week ago.

The security threat to what is widely regarded as the biggest game in world football, with an estimated global television audience of 500 million, has even overshadowed the return of Lionel 

Messi for Barcelona after a two-month injury layoff.

Spanish government officials have promised a security presence of 2,400 police, stewards and emergency services at the Santiago Bernabeu to form a triple ring of security around the stadium.

The Stade de France, where France were hosting Germany, was one of a number of targets struck during the attacks on Friday that left 129 dead and over 350 injured.

Meanwhile, Spain's friendly against Belgium in Brussels was postponed due to the elevated terror threat and Germany's meeting with the Netherlands called off by a bomb threat on Tuesday.

However, the Spanish authorities insist that there is no reason to believe another late postponement will be required.

"It is a shame that people aren't talking about sport, football or the spectacle, but it is the reality we live in and we can't ignore it," said Barca captain Andres Iniesta on Thursday. "We have to try to return to normality."

On the field, Barca lead Madrid by three points at the top of the table despite being without Messi for the last two months.

The Argentine seems certain to feature after taking a full part in training this week, but it is still unknown whether coach Luis Enrique will risk his star from the start or allow him to ease back into action from the bench.

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