La Liga: Big test for Barca and Atletico Madrid; Benzema back for Real

FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will play a key game between them on Sunday as they look to ensure a place in the top-four of La Liga and next season’s Champions League.

Barca will be without injured Ansu Fati, Clement Lenglet and Memphis Depay, but will have all of their January signings available, with Dani Alves, Ferran Torres and Adama Traore all likely to start. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s lack of football action over the past couple of months means he will probably begin the game on the bench.

Xavi Hernandez’s side has produced moments of good football since he replaced Ronald Koeman, but they need to consolidate these performances, although Atletico promises to be a difficult rival to overcome.

Diego Simeone’s men ended a run of poor results with two injury-time goals to take three points against Valencia two weeks ago, and the visit to the Camp Nou will show if that was a one-off or a real turning point in their irregular season.

The return of Stefan Savic should give a boost to Atletico’s defense, while moving Mario Hermoso to left-back. Meanwhile, Daniel Wass will make his debut at right-back after joining from Valencia a week ago, reports Xinhua.

Geoffrey Kondogbia and Marcos Llorente are both back in full training, although neither are likely fit enough to start. The match will also see former Barca hero Luis Suarez return to Camp Nou, although the injury will keep Antoine Griezmann sidelined for the game.

Real Madrid are also in action on Sunday as they entertain Granada, and the La Liga leaders have Karim Benzema back after he missed their Copa del Rey defeat to Athletic Club Bilbao with a hamstring problem.

Ferland Mendy’s muscle problem means Marcelo will start at left-back allowing David Alaba to return to central defense, while Dani Carvajal is expected to return on the right for Lucas Vazquez.




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