MADIRD, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) — Both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are in Sunday action as the Liga Santander prepares to sign off for another international break.
Barcelona entertain Betis, who have been struggling for form in the league, but performing well in Europe, as shown by their draw at home to AC Milan on Thursday.
The league leaders should be able to welcome Samuel Umtiti back into their squad, although the central defender may have to wait to make his return after excellent displays by Clement Lenglet in his absence.
The big question is over whether Leo Messi will return on Sunday, just three weeks after breaking the radial bone in his right arm.
Messi is back in full training and travelled for the midweek draw with Inter Milan and although he watched that game from the stands, a muscle injury suffered by Philippe Coutinho could see him back in the side.
If Valverde doesn’t want to risk Messi, he could give a start to Malcom, who scored his first goal for Barca in Milan, or Ousmane Dembele, although the Frenchman was ‘invited’ to train along on Friday after missing training on Thursday with a stomach bug and allegedly neglecting to tell the club of his problem until two hours later.
Real Madrid meanwhile travel to face Celta Vigo after three wins in three games since Santiago Solari replaced Julen Lopetegui as coach.
Those three wins, in which Madrid have scored 11 goals without conceding any, appear to have convinced players, fans and club that the Argentinean deserves the job on a permanent basis. A win would probably seal Solari’s future until the end of the campaign, although a defeat in Vigo would probably change opinions at a club where any minor setback is viewed as a crisis.
Solari still has players out through injury, with Rafael Varene, Marcelo, Jesus Vallejo and Dani Carvajal and will probably repeat the side which won 5-0 away to Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League.
That means young Brazilian Vinicius Jr waiting for his opportunity on the bench while Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema lead the attack. Both Bale and Benzema have been criticized of late, but both scored against Plzen and it will be interesting to see if once again they produce their best form away from the Santiago Bernabeu.