Real Madrid and Barcelona in Sunday action in Spain

Published: Jan 20, 2018, 17:42 IST | IANS

Both Spanish football giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are in La Liga action on Sunday afternoon with both sides having different aims

The Real Madrid team
The Real Madrid team

Both Spanish football giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are in La Liga action on Sunday afternoon with both sides having different aims.

Real Madrid host struggling Deportivo La Coruna in the Santiago Bernabeu needing to end a run of two consecutive home defeats in the league in the wake of last weekend's upset against Villarreal, reports Xinhua news agency.

Villarreal could overtake Real Madrid and move into fourth place if they win their match on Saturday reinforcing the fact that Zinedine Zidane's side are now battling to assure their place in next seasons Champions League rather than fight it out for the title.

Central defender Jesus Vallejo is out with a muscle injury and Sergio Ramos is also doubtful for the game, while Zidane, who rested key players in the King's Cup on Thursday, will be able to start Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema together for the first time since last April.

Real Madrid need a good start against a Deportivo side who are currently third from bottom and committing too many errors, otherwise the fans in the Bernabeu are likely to let their frustrations at a disappointing season show.

Barcelona, meanwhile travel to play Betis following their first defeat in 30 matches as they lost 1-0 to Espanyol in the Cup and it will be interesting to see how they react following that result against a rival who will look to take the game to them in a hostile Benito Villamarin Stadium.

Barcelona are without the injured Phillipe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, while Paco Alcacer remains sidelined and Paulinho and Andres Iniesta are both doubts.

Ernesto Valverde is likely to play Nelson Semedo at right back with Sergi Roberto, who along with Gerard Pique signed a new contract until 2022, pushed into midfield, while Jordi Alba, rested in the Cup, returns at left back.

One player who won't be making the trip to Seville is midfielder Rafinha Alcantara after the Brazilian agreed a loan deal with Inter Milan on Friday.

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