Big name returnees in La Liga (Preview)

Madrid, Sep 8 (IANS) The third week of the La Liga will see some familiar faces back in action as Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema are expected to make their first appearances in the football season.

Real Madrid’s Ronaldo and Benzema will be the first to return after overcoming a knee injury and a back problem, respectively, and although they may not be able to play for 90 minutes at home to Osasuna, they should both be in the starting line-up, reports Xinhua.

That will see Marcos Asensio and Alvaro Morata drop down to the subsitutes bench, despite Morata’s two goals on international duty for Spain, which came ahead of an interview in which the striker said he knew he would have to work hard for his place in the side.

Neymar should also be back for champions FC Barcelona. The Brazilian flew into Barcelona on Wednesday after over 100 days in Brazil on Olympic and World Cup duty and is expected to go straight into the side to face recently promoted Alaves.

Paco Alcacer could also make his Barcelona debut amid doubts over Messi’s fitness after the Argentine complained of a groin injury which could see him rested ahead of next week’s Champions League debut.

Meanwhile Alaves travel with two players — Ibai Gomez and Gaizka Toquero — keen to score against Barcelona on Saturday night.

Atletico Madrid will play against Celta Vigo on Saturday in a vital game for both sides. Celta have no points this season, while Atletico have only two points from two games.

Atletico know that failure to win in Vigo would probably see them slip six or seven points behind Real Madrid and Barcelona and even at this early stage to the season that is a big gap to close against their formidable rivals.

Malaga play against Villarreal while Sevilla entertain Las Palmas.

Sunday’s action begins with Sporting Gijon and Leganes both looking to defend their unbeaten starts to the season. Valencia and Real Betis will also brace up against each other in what could be a tense game.

Valencia have sold key players in the transfer window and lost their first two games of the season. The club will be hoping the arrival of Ezequiel Garay and Elaquim Mangala will steady the boat.

Also on Sunday, Granada entertain Eibar, while Athletic Club Bilbao look for their first points of the season away against Deportivo la Coruna.

–IANS

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