Liga Santander returns after international break

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Madrid, Sep 7 (IANS) Spain’s Liga Santander football league returns to action this weekend following the international break with two derbies on offer and Real Madrid looking to return to winning ways after dropping two points a fortnight ago.

There will be a little piece of football history made when the weekend kicks off in Leganes on Friday night as the home side entertain Getafe in what could be described as the ‘south of Madrid derby’, reports Xinhua news agency.

Although Leganes and Getafe have played each other in the past this will be the first time they have faced each other in the top flight and Leganes could make it nine points from three games and go top of the table if they are able to beat their neighbors.

The second derby is on Saturday night as Barcelona take on Espanyol in the Camp Nou Stadium.

The game should see the debut of Barca’s record signing Ousmane Dembele, while Paulinho will probably make his home debut in a Camp Nou where the fans are angry at club President, Josep Maria Bartomeu for the failure to strengthen the squad over the summer and apparently lying after he said Andres Iniesta had agreed a new contract on Wednesday – something the player then denied on Thursday.

Real Madrid get the ball rolling with a 1pm kick off on Saturday as they entertain recently promoted Levante in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Madrid dropped two points at home to Valencia a fortnight ago and cannot afford to drop any more this early in the season against a side who have looked solid on their return to the Liga Santander.

Sergio Ramos returns for Madrid after suspension, but Cristiano Ronaldo is still out as he serves the last of his five match ban. Meanwhile Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema need good performances after being criticized for their displays against Valencia and in pre-season.

The return of European football next week means most of Spain’s big sides are in action on Saturday, with Atletico, who play their third away game of the campaign providing another stiff test for Valencia, who look much improved since the arrival of Marcelino Garcia as first team coach.

Atletico meanwhile will take heart from Diego Simeone’s decision during the week to extend his contract with the club until 2020 and look forward to next weekend’s opening game in their new Wanda Metropolitan Stadium.

Sevilla are also in action on Saturday as they play at home to an Eibar side that looks as solid as ever despite losing their last home game to Athletic Club Bilbao.

Sunday kicks off with Real Sociedad hoping to maintain their 100 percent record this season as they visit Deportivo la Coruna, who look to the return of Lucas Perez to give a boost to a thin looking squad.

Girona look to continue their unbeaten start to life in the top flight when they visit San Mames to face Athletic Club Bilbao, who have yet to concede a goal this campaign, while Celta and Alaves both search for their first points of the season after losing their two opening matches.

Villarreal are also pointless after two games and need to kick start their season against Betis, who were impressive in defeating Celta a fortnight ago, and the round of matches finishes on Monday as Malaga and Las Palmas play another game between another two sides who have so far drawn a blank this campaign.

–IANS

sam/vt

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