Tough away games for Barcelona, Real Madrid

Madrid, Sep 22 (IANS) Spanish football giants FC Barcelona and Real Madrid both play important and difficult games in the first round of La Liga on Wednesday night.

Barcelona travel to face Celta Vigo, who are currently third in the table with three wins and a draw from their opening four matches and whose attacking trio of former Barcelona B team player Nolito, Iago Aspas and Fabian Orellana are in excellent form, reports Xinhua.

Although Nolito, who has been touted as a possible signing for Barcelona, said on Monday it was “a joke” to compare them with Barcelona’s superstar attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

Suarez will return to the first team after being rested during Sunday’s La Liga match, while defender Gerard Pique is also in line to make his first appearance of the campaign after completing his four-match suspension.

However, Barcelona are still without winger Rafinha, who undergoes surgery in his broken knee ligament on Tuesday, and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who is still recovering from injury.

Real Madrid travel to play Athletic Club Bilbao in the San Mames Stadium, where they have not won in the past two years.

Coach Rafael Benitez’s side were disappointing in only beating Granada 1-0 on Saturday and maintain the doubt over the presence of defender Sergio Ramos, who has struggled with a shoulder injury, while forwards Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and midfielder Danilo are also out through their respective injuries.

Athletic have not had a great start to their league campaign, partly due to their own long injury list and the Basque side still have forward Iker Muniain and Inaki Williams sidelined, but after resting several players in their defeat to Villarreal on Sunday, coach Ernesto Valverde will field his strongest team.

Madrid will hope Ramos is fit to play and deal with striker Aritz Aduriz, who has been in devastating for Athletic.

Aduriz has nine goals in all competitions and will be a constant threat to Madrid.

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