MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead of
this weekend's matches:
Atletico Madrid's new striker Radamel Falcao has scored
five goals in his last two outings and said his side would be
going on the offensive when they visited Barcelona on Saturday.
"We are trying to control possession and this is also
Barca's strong point," the Colombia forward told reporters. "But
we know how to play with and without the ball and will have to
be patient when they have it, and use it well when we have
Atletico, who have won their last two games 4-0, are boosted
by the return to the squad of Brazilian playmaker Diego, who
remains a doubt, however, for the Nou Camp.
Gerard Pique is set to return to the centre of the
Barcelona defence after injury but Pep Guardiola saw Dutch
midfielder Ibrahim Afellay ruled out for a long spell after he
tore knee ligaments on Thursday.
Afellay joins Andres Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez on the
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was on the offensive as he
dismissed talk of a "crisis" ahead of Saturday's visit of Rayo
Vallecano, after surprisingly dropping points against
Levante and Racing Santander during the week.
"Some talk of a crisis, a dramatic situation," he told
reporters on Friday. "It's three bad games but only one week,
not three weeks. It isn't a crisis but a negative situation."
Real will have a patched up defence with Ricardo Carvalho,
Pepe and Fabio Coentrao joining long-term injury victims Nuri
Sahin and Hamit Altintop in the treatment room.
Pepe and Coentrao have muscle strains while Carvalho is
recovering from a blow to the head suffered in Santander on
Leaders Real Betis are the only side left with a 100
percent record and travel to struggling Getafe on Monday,
when the promoted club can cement their place at the top with a
"Nobody believed that we would have 12 points from four
games at this stage," Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz told
reporters. "We just knew it would be important to get as many
points as possible in the first few games."
Villarreal have had a poor start to the season and visit
another side low on confidence, Athletic Bilbao, on Saturday. Coach Juan Carlos Garrido had words of support for his
opposite number Marcelo Bielsa, who has one point so far.
"Bielsa is a coach with one of the best curriculums," he
said. "It is an honour to face one of his teams. He's trying to
impose his ideas and change always needs a period of
Second-placed Valencia visit Sevilla on Saturday
without midfielder David Albelda who has a back problem. Coach
Unai Emery has rested defenders Miguel and Angel Dealbert, and
winger Pablo Hernandez from his squad.
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