Brief news from La Liga
ahead of this weekend's matches:
Real Madrid's match at city rivals Rayo Vallecano on
Sunday may be a chance for Gonzalo Higuain to shine after
his strike partner Karim Benzema picked up an injury in
Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League draw at CSKA Moscow.
Benzema damaged an adductor muscle and local media reported
the France striker would be out of action for up to three weeks.
He joins Argentina winger Angel di Maria on the sidelines, who
missed the CSKA game with a leg muscle tear.
Victory for Real at Rayo would put them 13 points clear of
second-placed Barcelona ahead of the champions' game at Atletico
Madrid later on Sunday.
Barca should have a full squad available for the match at
the Calderon apart from long-term injury absentees David Villa
and Ibrahim Afellay.
Clashes between Barca and Atletico have produced plenty of
goals and a fair share of drama over the past two decades, with
the two sides finding the net 153 times in 37 league meetings.
Barca have won all four matches at their Nou Camp stadium
since Guardiola took over in 2008, netting 19 goals and
conceding three, while at the Calderon Atletico have two wins,
including a dramatic 4-3 comeback success, and one defeat.
Real's 10-point lead is "considerable" but Barca are ready
to pounce should Jose Mourinho's side slip up, according to
midfielder Andres Iniesta.
"Our only mentality is to keep taking three points at a
time," the Spain international said on Thursday. "That will keep
us competitive for the Champions League and the King's Cup final
and in the league if Madrid drop any points."
In-form Barca forward Alexis Sanchez believes he still has
room for improvement following his 40 million euros move from Udinese in the close-season.
"I still haven't come away at the end of any game saying
'today I played well'," the Chilean said. "I still haven't
reached my peak and I know I can give more."
Valencia are 11 points behind Barca after their 5-1
drubbing at the Nou Camp last weekend, when Lionel Messi scored
four goals to take his tally for the season to 27 from 23 games.
Unai Emery's side warmed up for their match at home to
Sevilla on Sunday with a 1-0 Europa League win at home to
Stoke City, which took them through to the last 16 of Europe's
second-tier club competition 2-0 on aggregate.
Espanyol occupy Spain's fourth Champions League
qualification berth but only two points separate them from
10th-placed Osasuna, with Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid,
Levante, Rayo Vallecano and Malaga bunched in between.
Bilbao play at Villarreal on Sunday, Osasuna host
Granada, also on Sunday and Levante play at Espanyol on
Saturday, immediately after Malaga host bottom club Real
In a congested lower half of the table, Osasuna in 10th
are only eight points above the relegation places, which are
occupied by Racing Santander in 18th, Sporting Gijon in 19th and
Zaragoza trailing five points behind in 20th and last place.
Berlin will stage Champions League final for the first time in 2015
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze ruled out of Champions League final against Bayern Munich
Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand signs one-year contract
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
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