Real And Barca Boosted As Iniesta, Kroos And Morata Return For The Spanish Giants
Barcelona are in lunchtime action on Saturday and face a trip to Osasuna’s El Sadar Stadium where they are clear favorites for a win.
The return of Andres Iniesta to the Barca starting eleven gave his side a clear boost as they swept past Borussia Monchengladbach 4-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday night. He and Samuel Umtiti should both keep their places in the side, while Luis Suarez will return after being rested in midweek.
Osasuna are without a home win all season and the change of coach, which saw Joaquin Caparros replace Enrique Martin three games ago, has had little effect as shown by their 3-1 defeat to fellow strugglers, Sporting Gijon last weekend.
Real Sociedad’s fine run of form came to a shuddering halt as they were beaten 5-1 by Deportivo on Monday, but the Basque side has an excellent chance to return to winning ways and perhaps move into the top four when they face a Valencia still struggling for form and confidence under coach Cesare Prandelli.
Las Palmas will hope to break down Leganes’ always well-organized defense, before Real Madrid go into action.
Gareth Bale is the only injury for Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane, who has Toni Kroos and Alvaro Morata available again after injuries.
This is Madrid’s last league game of the season before they travel to the World Club Championships in Japan and the Madrid boss will not be taking risks with key players with the chance to win another title before the end of the year.
Deportivo have improved of late as shown by their thrashing of Real Sociedad and striker Florin Andone has finally hit form with five goals in his last five matches. Deportivo have scored 12 goals in their last three games, although they have also conceded eight, which implies fans could be in for a thriller in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Sunday kicks off with a Basque derby between Eibar and Alaves in which the visitors need points more than the home side, before Celta Vigo and Sevilla line up for what promises to be an entertaining game in Balaidos.
Espanyol have not conceded a goal in 496 minutes league football and will expect to extend that record at home to Sporting Gijon, who are still deep in trouble despite last weekend’s win over Osasuna.
Athletic Club Bilbao could also move into the top-four if they can improve their away form against a Betis side that looks tougher since the arrival of Victor Sanchez as coach. Betis have combative midfielder Petros suspended while Aritz Aduriz and Raul Garcia return for Athletic after injury.
Finally Villarreal and Atletico Madrid contest an even looking game in El Madrigal with both sides looking to pick up after indifferent recent form has seen them slip to fifth and fourth in the table.