Brief news from La Liga
ahead of this weekend's matches:
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and his Barcelona
rival Lionel Messi are available for their games on Saturday
against Valencia and Real Zaragoza respectively after returning
from international duty.
Portugal's Ronaldo - who has netted 13 goals in 11 games
this term - has shaken off a minor leg muscle problem, Aitor
Karanka, coach Jose Mourinho's number two, told a news
conference on Friday.
"Cristiano is ready and we'll decide if he plays or not,"
Karanka added that Brazil playmaker Kaka and Portugal
centre back Ricardo Carvalho were still getting over injuries
and would not be available for the match against third-placed
Valencia at the Mestalla.
"Kaka hasn't recovered yet," the former Real player said.
"I've suffered muscle injuries myself and I can tell you they
are tough to determine.
"It sometimes seems you're fit to play when you really
aren't. Carvalho is also still recovering and feels better. He
is enjoying training. It will be better to wait and we hope he
rejoins the team as soon as possible."
Barca coach Pep Guardiola said Argentine Messi, who
arrived back from South America on Thursday and has one more La
Liga goal than Ronaldo this season, was in good enough shape to
start their game at home to Zaragoza.
"He trained well," Guardiola told a news conference on
Friday. "Tomorrow we'll see what team we select because I have
some doubts. I will put out the side that I believe is best able
to win the match."
Guardiola may have forward Pedro available after the Spain
international completed a full training session with the rest of
the squad on Friday.
The return of Pedro, who twisted an ankle in the match at
Granada last month, means Brazil full-back Adriano Correia and
long-term injury absentee Ibrahim Afellay of Netherlands are the
only two players left on the medical list.
Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, who produced an epic
performance in the 2-2 draw at home to Barca in September, has
recovered from a hand injury and is available for the Real game.
Guaita said the team were not looking for revenge for last
season's 6-3 home defeat by Mourinho's side but merely wanted a
good result to try to keep pace with the leaders.
"We are playing at home and we are capable of getting three
points against the best team of the Mourinho era," he said in an
interview with As sports daily published on Friday. "It would be
a good morale booster."
Sunday's most enticing match pits fifth-placed Sevilla
against in-form Athletic Bilbao, who are ninth after
going undefeated in seven games.
Bilbao's Spain striker Fernando Llorente said the team were
hoping to end a poor run at Sevilla's Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
"We know that we have been trying for many years and that
it's very tough," Llorente told a news conference on Friday.
"But we are capable of carrying on in the same way as before
the international break, with the same intensity of play, and I
believe we can get a good result."
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Sunday having lost their last two matches and surrendered
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