Brief news from La Liga
ahead of this weekend's matches:
Athletic Bilbao's impressive 3-2 win over Manchester
United at Old Trafford in the Europa League on Thursday has
given the Basque side a huge confidence boost.
Marcelo Bielsa's team, who are fifth in La Liga one point
outside the top four, head to play local rivals Osasuna
(seventh) on Sunday.
"It's one of those games you will always remember," Bilbao
and Spain striker Fernando Llorente told reporters in
"We played them without fear, and penned them back. We
deserved to have scored more but we leave here very pleased."
Second-placed Barcelona trail leaders Real Madrid by 10
points with 13 matches left and travel to Racing Santander on
Sunday without the suspended Gerard Pique.
The Spain defender was sent off last weekend and an appeal
was rejected during the week. He is also being investigated for
accusing the referee of appearing to make a "pre-meditated
decision" when he showed him a straight red card.
Coach Pep Guardiola is without the injured David Villa,
Alexis Sanchez and Ibrahim Afellay while Thiago Alcantara, Eric
Abidal and Carles Puyol are all doubts.
Real are seeking their tenth consecutive away win when
they visit Real Betis on Saturday and have a doubt over
striker Karim Benzema.
The France international has been out of action since he
picked up an injury against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League
Third-placed Valencia host Real Mallorca on Sunday
with striker Roberto Soldado boosted after ending a 49-day goal
drought for his club. He scored twice in their 4-2 home win over
PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League on Thursday.
Soldado returned to the Spain squad for the first time since
2007 and scored a hat-trick in their recent 5-0 demolition of
Venezuela. He is fighting to be included in their Euro 2012
Fourth-placed Levante go to sixth-placed Malaga on
Saturday. The home side will be without former Arsenal
forward Julio Baptista, who has suffered yet another injury
The Brazil international was close to a return after foot
surgery but now has a calf problem and will return to Brazil to
complete his recovery. In 14 months at the club he has managed
only 15 league games but has scored 10 goals.
Atletico Madrid took a 3-1 lead over Besiktas in the
Europa League on Thursday, Argentine Eduardo Salvio scoring
twice as they shrugged off the absences of the injured Diego
Ribas, Arda Turan and Tiago.
"He has worked hard to make this happen, he is a great
alternative for the team," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.
The ninth-placed side host Granada on Sunday looking to
end a run of five league games without a win.
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