Brief news from La Liga ahead of
this weekend's matches:
Defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique have returned to
the Barcelona squad after injury in time for Saturday's visit of
Pep Guardiola's side have struggled to score goals in their
last two outings, drawing 0-0 at home against Sevilla and then
winning 1-0 at promoted Granada, but have kept seven consecutive
clean sheets in all competitions.
"Sometimes it could be a good thing to not be so precise in
front of goal," Guardiola told reporters. "It may be good not to
win by such huge margins because this confuses things. There is
a tendency to think we will score lots of goals every game."
Barca are third in the standings, one point behind
second-placed Real Madrid and two short of surprise leaders
Levante are seeking their eighth consecutive victory when
they travel to Osasuna on Sunday, but are determined not
to lose sight of their principle objective - avoiding
"My feet are drilled to the floor and covered in cement,"
Levante president Quico Catalan, 35, told sports daily As.
"If we let the euphoria get to us we'll lose our way. We are
enjoying the moment knowing very well what is likely to happen
in the future."
Real have Lassana Diarra back from injury for their trip
to play Real Sociedad on Saturday but Turkey midfielder
Nuri Sahin will have to wait a while yet for his debut.
"I don't see him ready for a few games yet," coach Jose
Mourinho said. "I'm sure he would like to play tomorrow... but he
has 10 years of football in front of him and we are not going to
put this at risk."
Valencia midfielder Sergio Canales had surgery on a
partially torn knee ligament on Friday and will be out of action
for around six months, the club have said.
Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo, who has just returned from
injury, misses Monday's visit of Granada with a swelling
around the same thigh problem.
Atletico Madrid's bright start to the season has
evaporated. They are without a win in seven outings in all
competitions, during which they have only managed two goals,
ahead of the visit of Real Zaragoza on Sunday.
"I don't fear the worst, I'm only thinking of the next
game," coach Gregorio Manzano told reporters when asked about
his future after the 3-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday.
Champions League side Villarreal are two points off the
foot of the standings in 18th place, have the league's worst
goal difference and have lost their two leading strikers
Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar to injury.
They host promoted Rayo Vallecano on Saturday with
coach Juan Carlos Garrido very much in the spotlight.
"We are all going to fight together, the president, the
coach and everyone else," club president Fernando Roig said
after the midweek 3-0 defeat at Real.
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