Spain soccer roundup: Barca without Messi again for Bilbao trip

Spain:Champions Barcelona will be without the injured Lionel Messi again at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday (2000) but team mate David Villa said he suspected the Argentine would be back for next week`s Champions League trip to play Rubin Kazan.

"He`s very keen to return. I think, at the most, he will miss two games, those against Sporting Gijon (on Wednesday) and Bilbao," the Spain striker told reporters.

The world player of the year is recovering from strained ankle ligaments picked up against Atletico Madrid last weekend.

  • 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.

  • Real Madrid`s Sergio Ramos is likely to return to the centre of defence again with Pepe suspended for the leaders` trip to promoted Levante on Saturday (1800). Kaka, Ezequiel Garay, Raul Albiol, Fernando Gago and Sergio Canales are injured.

    "To be top after four games is of little significance at this stage," Jose Mourinho told reporters. "What`s important is that we are winning even under construction which gives the players confidence in what we`re doing."

  • 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.
  • Atletico Madrid hope to have Argentina striker Sergio Aguero back for the home match against Real Zaragoza on Sunday (1900) after he missed the midweek draw against Valencia to recover from an ankle injury.
  • Sevilla travel to play promoted Hercules on Sunday (1700) looking to lift themselves after Thursday`s 1-1 home draw with Racing Santander, in which goalkeeper Andres Palop remonstrated with unhappy fans at the final whistle.

    "There`s one fan who has been insulting us from the start of the season," the Sevilla captain told reporters. "Today, without insults and in a polite manner, I asked him to get behind us and said we would try to do better."

  • Almeria coach Juan Manuel Lillo is under pressure to turn around his side`s form when they visit Deportivo Coruna on Sunday (1500) seeking a first win this season.

    "After Sunday we`ll analyse the situation. I can`t guarantee anything other than Lillo will be coach at the Riazor," Almeria president Alfonso Garcia Gabarron said after the midweek home defeat to promoted Levante.

    Bureau Report