MADRID: Real Madrid and Barcelona look to recover their best form in this weekend’s Spanish league action, while three teams are vying for their first victory of the season.
Real and Barcelona labored to midweek victories that failed to impress their home fans, but both clubs are away on Saturday (today) with Real at Levante and Barcelona up against Athletic Bilbao.
Madrid lead Valencia on goal difference with 10 points, Barcelona and Villarreal share nine points and Sevilla have eight.
Real may be happy to be away from the Santiago Bernabeu stadium following a midweek 3-0 win over Espanyol where coach Jose Mourinho had to remind his players to play at their own pace and not the rhythm of the home crowd’s whistling.
“The fans want to see football played at pace but they have to remember that we are having to play a lot of games in quick succession,” Germany midfielder Sami Khedira told reporters.
“There is an accumulation of fatigue and stress so the idea is that we conserve our energies.”
Levante should not ask too many questions of Real. They won their first points of the season beating Almeria 1-0 away on Wednesday, but have already leaked 10 goals. A Valencia judge ruled on Thursday that Levante could officially come out of financial administration. The club turned to administrators in July 2008 after being relegated to the second division with reported debts of around 90 million euros.
Most Spanish clubs will play their third game in eight days this weekend, with Real, Barcelona and Valencia all in Champions League action days later.
Lionel Messi’s absence was felt by Barcelona, who will be without the Argentina forward this weekend again before evaluating whether he can return from an ankle injury to play Rubin Kazan on Wednesday.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has had to call up B-team players to fill in training this week, with Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol both carrying knocks. Defender Eric Abidal is expected to be back in the lineup after traveling to Martinique for personal reasons. Forward Jefferson Suarez also returns from injury.
For Bilbao, Spain forward Fernando Llorente is working to shake off a knee problem while his strike partner Gaizka Toquero has an ankle injury.
“To beat Barca we have to be at 100 percent and hope they don’t even reach 40 percent,” coach Joaquin Caparros told sports daily Mundo Deportivo.
Valencia dropped their first points of the season at home to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, when visiting goalkeeper David De Gea ensured they were held to a 1-1 draw. They too return to action at Sporting on Saturday.