Madrid, Aug 27 (IANS) FC Barcelona have to overcome a minor injury crisis when they entertain Malaga in the second round of matches of the La Liga on Saturday evening.
The Catalans football giants, who scraped through to a 1-0 win away against Athletic Club Bilbao last weekend, are without defenders Gerard Pique, Dani Alves and Adriano, while striker Neymar is recovering from mumps, reports Xinhua.
The good news for coach Luis Enrique is that midfielder Sergio Busquets has recovered from an ankle injury he suffered a week ago and should be able to play.
Following their 0-0 away against Sporting Gijon last week Real Madrid have the chance to show their fans they have no problems scoring goals, despite a start to the campaign in which they have struggled to find the net.
Real play another newly promoted side, Real Betis late on Saturday night and with forward Karim Benzema available again after injury, it will be interesting to see how Rafael Benitez shuffles his starting 11.
Betis hope to re-sign former hero Joaquin Sanchez before Saturday and will be hoping to frustrate Madrid and their ever demanding fans for as long as possible.
Another returning hero is Asier Illaramendi, after the Real Sociedad midfielder completed his return from Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Illaramendi has said he is fit to face Gijon and the decision over whether or not he starts is down to Sociedad coach David Moyes.
The round of matches kicks off on Friday when Villarreal entertain Espanyol and Roberto Sodado will be hoping to once again show that his loss of form in England is now history.
The former Tottenham striker scored on his debut away against Betis last week and will aim to do the same against an Espanyol side who beat Getafe on the first weekend.
Saturday also sees what promises to be an entertaining game between Celta Vigo, who won away against Levante last week, play home game against Rayo Vallecano, who are once again finding their feet after massive changes over the summer.
The early leaders, SD Eibar, are at home agianst Bilbao in a local derby and they will be hoping to take advantage of their neighbours’ tiredness from a European qualifying game and a long injury list, which includes striker Inaki Williams and Iker Muniain.
Perhaps the game of the week will be held in Sevilla’s Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium as Sevilla, who have just signed former Spain striker Fernando Llorente, entertain Atletico Madrid.
It promises to be an intense game between two of the best tactical sides in Spain, both of whom possess firepower in attack.
Valencia celebrate making the group stage of the European Champions League at home against Deportivo la Coruna, while newly promoted Las Palmas will fancy their chances of a point when they face a dour Levante side at home.
The round of matches ends with Getafe entertaining Granada in a 22.30 p.m. kick off which should ensure Getafe’s Alfonso Perez Coliseum is virtually empty.