Valencia to test leaders Barcelona in Liga (Preview)

December 4th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Dec 4 (DPA) The big football game in Spain this weekend sees runaway leaders Barcelona at home to rugged Valencia Saturday in the Primera Liga.Barca are four points above second-placed Villarreal, with Valencia five points behind them in third place.

Valencia will make the trip to the Camp Nou - where they were thrashed 6-0 last season - without captain Carlos Marchena who was sent off in last Sunday’s 3-2 defeat of Betis.

In addition, Brazilian midfielder Edu and Spain striker David Silva are injured.

“It’s going to be a difficult game for us,” said Valencia’s old warhorse Ruben Baraja.

“But we have got fairly good results there in the past few years, and I think we can do this again Saturday.”

Barca, for their part, will be without the suspended Samuel Eto’o - league top scorer with 14 goals - as well as injury victims Gabriel Milito, Eric Abidal and Andres Iniesta.

Earlier Saturday, surprise package Sporting Gijon face inconsistent Atletico Madrid while Villarreal take on Getafe.

Getafe are on a high after beating Real Madrid 3-1 and drawing 1-1 away to Barca.

Sunday’s main match will be between troubled Real and Sevilla, who have striker Luis Fabiano suspended.

Real’s injury crisis worsens by the day, and they will be without Miguel Torres, Gabriel Heinze, Pepe, Mahamadou Diarra, Wesley Sneijder, Ruben de la Red and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

However, it is hoped that Fabio Cannavaro, Gonzalo Higuain and Arjen Robben will be ready to return, or at least to be on the subs’ bench.

Up in the Bernabeu stands will be new boy Klaas Jan Huntelaar, signed Tuesday from Ajax for 20 million euros ($25.30 million). The Dutch international cannot play for Real until January, by which time he should have recovered from his ankle injury.

Sunday’s other games are: Mallorca-Recreativo Huelva, Osasuna-Valladolid, Deportivo Coruna-Malaga, Numancia-Almeria, Racing Santander-Athletic Bilbao and Betis-Espanyol.

The latter game will feature the debut on the Espanyol bench of Mane, the coach who took tiny Alaves to the UEFA Cup final in 2001. He was appointed Monday to replace the luckless Bartolome Marquez, who only lasted four months.

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