Spain soccer roundup - Aguero returns to boost Atletico Madrid

* Fifth-placed Atletico Madrid visit second-placed Villarreal on Sunday (1900) in a clash between two sides expected to be competing for a top-four finish this season.

Striker Sergio Aguero returned after a month out injured and showed Atletico what they had been missing, coming off the bench to score one and set up another in their 3-0 Europa League win over Rosenborg on Thursday.

Aguero`s return, and striker Diego Costa`s fourth goal in five games, helps take the pressure off an out-of-sorts Diego Forlan.

* In-form Villarreal beat PAOK Salonika 1-0 in the Europa League on Thursday and have won six of their last seven matches in all competitions. They lie one point behind leaders Real Madrid, ahead of Barcelona and Valencia on goal difference.

* Unbeaten Real are at home to struggling Racing Santander on Saturday (1800) and will hope to have defender Sergio Ramos back in the side. He missed the midweek Champions League win over AC Milan with a knee problem.

"I don`t know if they play better or worse than other Real teams, but it is clear they are the most balanced side of recent times," Racing coach and former Real technical director Miguel Angel Portugal told sports daily Marca on Friday.

* Barcelona will be without playmaker Xavi when they visit basement side Real Zaragoza on Saturday (1600). The midfielder is to continue having treatment on his troublesome Achilles tendons, the club said.

Xavi is likely to be replaced by Javier Mascherano. Goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who missed their Champions League win over FC Copenhagen with an illness, did not train on Thursday and Jose Manuel Pinto could deputise again.

* Valencia are set to have winger Joaquin back in contention after two weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury, in time for the visit of Real Mallorca on Saturday (2000).

* Espanyol striker Pablo Osvaldo has been banned for three matches following his red card last weekend for elbowing and subsequent abuse of the referee and gestures he made to the crowd in Mallorca.

The Barcelona-based club, who lie sixth, are at home to promoted Levante on Sunday (1500).

* Striker David Trezeguet has been banned for two matches after his red card against Villarreal and will miss promoted Hercules`s trip to Almeria on Sunday (1500). He is the club`s top scorer with four goals.

* Promoted Real Sociedad are at home to Deportivo Coruna on Monday (1900) without top scorer Raul Tamudo, who has cracked a bone in his forearm. Depor, 19th, have yet to win a game and are La Liga`s lowest scorers with just three goals from seven games.

Bureau Report

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