FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, center, controls the ball during a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in San Joan Despi, Spain, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. Real Madrid and Barcelona will play at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday in the first clasico of the season. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi exercises during a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in San Joan Despi, Spain, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. Real Madrid and Barcelona will play at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday in the first clasico of the season. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
MADRID — Lionel Messi will be on the bench when Barcelona plays at Real Madrid in the first "clasico" of the season on Saturday.
The Argentine playmaker has recovered from a left knee injury that kept him sidelined for nearly two months, but he will not start Saturday's game at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique had said Friday that Messi had healed from the injury but was not yet 100 percent fit.
Enrique said it would be mostly up to the player to decide if he felt confident enough to play from the start.
Messi, the all-time highest scorer in the clasico with 21 goals, hasn't played in nine matches since tearing a ligament in his left knee in a Spanish league game against Las Palmas on Sept. 26.
Midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who was nursing a muscle injury, was included in the team's starting lineup, as were Luis Suarez and Neymar, who between them have provided 20 of the 23 goals scored by Barcelona since Messi got injured.
Real Madrid was at full strength for the home game, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema playing up front.
Bale and Benzema had been listed as doubtful because of injuries, and Benzema has also been dealing with a sex tape controversy that led to the player being briefly detained in France two weeks ago.
Coach Rafa Benitez decided to start with playmaker James Rodriguez instead of defensive midfielder Casemiro, giving the team a more offensive setup. Rodriguez was coming off two full games with Colombia's national team and it wasn't certain he could play the entire match on Saturday.
Captain Sergio Ramos, who had been nursing a shoulder injury, was also in the starting 11 for Madrid, which is unbeaten at home in 22 Spanish league games.
Barcelona has a three-point lead over Real Madrid after 12 rounds. Madrid lost its first match of the season two weeks ago at Sevilla, but it can return to the top of the standings with a win because it has a better goal difference than its rival.
Unprecedented security measures were in place at the Bernabeu following the attacks in Paris last week, with nearly 3,000 policemen and private security officers working to maintain public safety both inside and outside the 81,000-capacity venue.
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