Madrid: FC Barcelona have the chance to go top of the La Liga football season on Saturday when they entertain Malaga in the Camp Nou stadium here.
A win for Barcelona would lift them a point above Real Madrid, who have a difficult task when they travel across the Spanish capital to take on neighbours Atletico on Saturday night and Barceclona’s superior goal difference means Real would need to take all three points from the Vicente Calderon to overtake them, reports Xinhua.
It has been far from a convincing side to the season for Barca, however, and their last game before the international break showed their two faces from this season, as they were virtually overrun by Sevilla for 40 minutes before a Lionel Messi goal got them on level terms and set up a dominant second half performance to win the match.
Barcelona will be without Luis Suarez, who scored the winning goal a fortnight ago. The Uruguayan striker is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season and will watch from the stands.
The injured Andres Iniesta will also miss out, as will central defender, Samuel Umtiti, who has a muscle injury.
The good news for the hosts is that experienced defender Gerard Pique should return following his knee injury, while Jordi Alba is also fit after suffering a hamstring problem during the October international break.
Barcelona President, Josep Maria Bartomeu explained on Wednesday that Pique played a major role in helping Barcelona secure a 60 million euro ($63.6 million)a year sponsorship deal with Japanese company Ratuken and he is already being discussed as a future club President.
Meanwhile Neymar has given coach Luis Enrique a selection headache: the Brazilian, who has been in fine form with his country is one booking away from suspension. Should he see a yellow card on Saturday, he will miss the difficult away trip to face Real Sociedad net week.
On the other hand if Neymar is able to play Real Sociedad and gets booked in that match, he would be suspended for the following game, which is the ‘Clasico’ against Real Madrid.