Madrid: Real Madrid may be without Cristiano Ronaldo on match day 15 of the La Liga but FC Barcelona will have to look for solutions in one of the most difficult grounds.
Ronaldo missed Madrid`s 4-0 win over Galatasaray in the Champions League Wednesday and failed to train Thursday as a result of a muscle injury. The ease of Madrid`s win without the striker may tempt coach Carlo Ancelotti to err on the side of caution and again rest Ronaldo Saturday at home to a Valladolid side which on paper should offer little resistance to them, reports Xinhua.
If Ronaldo doesn`t play, Gareth Bale will look to repeat his excellent form from Wednesday while Karim Benzema remains in good form along with impressive Xabi Alonso in midfield.
Barca wait till Sunday and following their first defeat of the season Tuesday, they would probably not have chosen to visit the new San Mames Stadium where Athletic Club Bilbao have yet to lose a game.
Barca could still be hampered by a list of injuries including Dani Alves, Victor Valdes, Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba although there is a chance that Alves and Alba could make the squad if they are able to train with their companions in the coming days.
Athletic hope to have striker Aritz Aduriz available if their last appeal against a two-game suspension is upheld. Otherwise Guillermo will lead in what would be only his third first team appearance.
The round kicks off Friday with two games as Getafe look to forget last week`s 0-7 thrashing in the Vicente Calderon at home to Levante, who have only lost two away games all season.
There is an exciting game in Villarreal as the fourth-placed side entertain Malaga, whose coach Berndt Schuster is under pressure after Monday`s defeat at home to Athletic Club, which left his side just one point above the relegation zone.
Saturday kicks off with second place Atletico Madrid looking to make life tough for Barca with a win away to Elche, whose morale is sky high after beating Valencia 2-1 last weekend.
Celta Vigo need to overcome their 4-3 defeat away to Real Sociedad, tighten up in defence and look for their first home win.
I`ve always said the person who wins the world championship this year is the person who does the best job on the circuit, but that does not seem the way it is at the moment.