Thursday, May 24, 2018

La Liga preview: Barca depleted for Levante clash

SoccerNews in La Liga 31 Dec 2010


La Liga leaders Barcelona will be without first-choice centre-backs for the visit of Levante when the Spanish season resumes on Sunday.

Barca skipper Carlos Puyol will miss the match at Camp Nou after sustaining a groin injury representing Catalonia against Honduras on Tuesday, while Gerard Pique is suspended.

Puyol, 32, is expected to be out for up to seven days, meaning he is also likely to miss a Copa del Rey tie away to Athletic Bilbao and the trip to Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga on January 5.

Fortunately for Barca, Argentine defender Gabriel Milito has returned to fitness after overcoming a thigh problem, along with emerging midfielder Jeffren.

Milito may be thrust straight into the starting line-up, alongside Eric Abidal.

Despite their defensive problems, Barca seemingly have little to fear from Levante, who went down 8-0 against Real Madrid in their last match before the winter break.

Struggling just two points above the relegation zone, they may be braced for more of the same treatment when they take on the league leaders in their own backyard.

Also on Sunday, fourth-place Valencia play host to fifth-placed Espanyol at the Mestalla.

The hosts drew 0-0 at home to Villarreal in the Copa del Rey 10 days ago, while Espanyol lost 1-0 away to Atletico Madrid in the same competition.

Elsewhere, Seville are at home to Osasuna, while second-bottom Sporting Gijon clash with third-bottom Malaga.

Deportivo La Coruna are away to Athletic Bilbao.

On Monday, Real Madrid travel to Getafe, while their cross-capital rivals Atletico Madrid are at home to Racing Santander.

Mallorca have a mid-table clash with surprise package Hercules.

The promoted side are flying high in 12th despite a large proportion of the first-team squad going unpaid for several months this season.

Bottom side Real Zaragoza will be desperate for points at home to Real Sociedad, as will third-placed Villarreal, who welcome Almeria to El Madrigal.

Juan Carlos Garrido’s side have the unenviable task of attempting to keep pace with the top two and they must do so without Brazil international Nilmar, who has been ruled out for up to a month following knee surgery.

Tenacious midfielder Marcos Senna is also out for 10 weeks after injuring a hamstring.


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