MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead of
this weekend's matches:
Injured trio Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Marcelo
are definitely out of Real Madrid's match at home to Sporting
Gijon on Saturday and will not return until the following
weekend, according to coach Jose Mourinho.
"They will only be able to play in Bilbao," the Portuguese
said at a news conference on Friday in reference to the game at
Athletic on April 9. "That's the information I have from the
With nine matches left, Real are second in the standings,
five points behind champions Barcelona, who play at third-placed
Villarreal in Saturday's late kick-off.
Mourinho said he was delighted to have striker Gonzalo
Higuain back in the squad for the first time after back surgery
and an absence of four months.
"Not even with the most optimistic forecasts could we have
expected him to return to action so soon," Mourinho said.
"It was a positive surprise as we could have as many as 15
matches between now and the end of the season and having him
available is important."
Mourinho is also missing Brazil playmaker Kaka, who has
not recovered since hurting the knee he had surgery on after the
2010 World Cup, and central midfielder Xabi Alonso, who is
suspended for accumulation of yellow cards.
Barca forward and joint league top scorer Lionel Messi
should be available for the Villarreal game after a suspected
injury sustained on duty with Argentina proved only a scare.
"The good news is that he is not injured," coach Pep
Guardiola told a news conference on Friday.
Guardiola will be without playmaker Xavi, who was shown a
fifth yellow in the last match and is suspended, and is likely
to hand Xavi's Spain team mate Andres Iniesta the job of
dictating play from central midfield.
Forwards Pedro and Bojan Krkic were recovering well from
injuries and a decision would be taken on whether to include
them in the squad after training later on Friday, Guardiola
Barca are unlikely to be weakened too much by any absences
through injury and have some of the world's best players in
reserve to fill any gaps, according to Villarreal coach Juan
"They are a team who also know how to defend very well and
it wouldn't be a surprise if players like (Seydou) Keita or
(Javier) Mascherano played," Garrido told a news conference. "To
beat them we'll have to do the best possible job."
Real Madrid fans may give Gijon coach Manuel Preciado a
hard time on Saturday after his row with Mourinho when the teams
met in November.
Preciado was incensed after the Portuguese suggested Gijon
had not given their all against Barca and the pair were
reprimanded by a government commission that seeks to combat
racism and intolerance in sport.
"I am totally fed up that you keep asking me the same
thing," Preciado said at a news conference. "A handshake? Of
course if he offers me his hand I will give him mine. It's all
in the past."
Fourth-placed Valencia, who play at Getafe on Saturday, are level on 54 points with Villarreal but behind due to
an inferior goal difference to their local rivals.
Getafe coach Michel is expecting great things from Valencia
striker Roberto Soldado, who left Madrid-based Getafe at the end
of last season.
"He is a very important player who has adapted very well and
will score a lot of goals," Michel was quoted as saying in
Friday's edition of As sports daily.
Atletico Madrid, three points behind Sevilla in eighth,
need a win at Osasuna on Sunday to keep their hopes of
qualifying for Europe alive but will be missing suspended
Argentina forward Sergio Aguero.
"We have to go with our weapons and try and get the three
points and to secure a berth in Europe," winger Jose Antonio
Reyes, who will likely play in Aguero's position on Sunday, told
a news conference on Friday.
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010