Barcelona Depleted side aim to keep pace with Real at Getafe

Barcelona visit Getafe hoping to keep pace with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga despite their growing list of absentees.

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Barcelona visit Getafe hoping to keep pace with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga despite their growing list of absentees.

The Catalan club are level with leaders Real on 21 points and are unbeaten in their last four games and - with the first Clasico of the season just over three weeks away - can ill-afford a slip-up ahead of next month's trip to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Barca travel to Madrid this weekend, and do so on the back of a disappointing 0-0 draw played out by a youthful side in Wednesday's Copa del Rey last-32 first-leg clash with third-tier Villanovense, which ended a run of three straight wins.

Prior to that stalemate, Barca had been in excellent form, with Luis Suarez and Neymar making up for the absence of Lionel Messi - who has not played since September 26 because of a knee injury.

Neymar netted four in a 5-2 defeat of Rayo Vallecano earlier this month as Barca responded excellently to a 2-1 loss at Sevilla, and - after Ivan Rakitic had inspired a 2-0 Champions League victory at BATE - Suarez scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 triumph against Eibar.

However, versatile midfielder Javier Mascherano is suspended for two games following his red card in the game with Eibar.

Messi and long-term absentee Rafinha (knee) remain out of action. Meanwhile, Getafe, who sit 13th with just 10 points from nine games, are without Carlos Vigaray after the defender was sent off in their 5-0 hammering at the hands of Sevilla.

Striker Alvaro Vazquez (hamstring) is also likely to be unavailable for the hosts and Alvaro Medran is not expected to be back until February after fracturing his shin for the second time in six months.

There is good news for Getafe, however, with midfielder Angel Lafita in contention to return from a groin injury, although defender Alexis is a doubt with a knee problem picked up in training.

Getafe have not beaten Barca since 2011 but did hold Luis Enrique's men to a 0-0 draw in the corresponding fixture last season.

But Neymar and Suarez - who have 15 league goals between them this campaign - were both on target in the 6-0 drubbing of Getafe at Camp Nou last term, and stopping the in-form duo will be key to the hosts doing neighbours Real a favour.

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