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High stakes in Catalan derby

Published: Friday 15 October 2004, 6.04CET
FC Barcelona's trip across town to take on RCD Espanyol is the highlight of a busy weekend in Spain.

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Published: Friday 15 October 2004, 6.04CET

High stakes in Catalan derby

FC Barcelona's trip across town to take on RCD Espanyol is the highlight of a busy weekend in Spain.
By Andy Hall

FC Barcelona cross town to take on RCD Espanyol in Saturday's Catalan derby with both teams riding high in the Primera División.

'A great game'
While Barça lead the table, their neighbours are just six points behind and three places below them. The Blaugrana have doubts over Gerard López and Ludovic Giuly, yet striker Samuel Eto'o has recovered from a stomach bug. Espanyol forward Dani García, meanwhile, is relishing facing his former club. "Both sides have been getting results so it looks like being a great game," he said. "If I score, there will be no special celebration, I will just be happy if that happens."

Injury and suspension
Champions Valencia CF, in second place, entertain UEFA Cup hopefuls Sevilla FC on Sunday. The visitors have central defender Pablo Alfaro suspended, while Valencia coach Claudio Ranieri is still without centre-backs Roberto Ayala and David Navarro so could move Amedeo Carboni into the middle. Striker Mista is struggling with a virus while Pablo Aimar remains sidelined.

Beckham out, Salgado doubt
A cracked rib sustained on international duty means David Beckham misses Real Madrid CF's Sunday trip to Real Betis Balompié. Míchel Salgado could be another absentee after taking a blow in Spain's game against Lithuania. The home side have defensive problems after Paolo Castellini joined Juanito Gutiérrez and Juan Andreu Melli on the casualty list. Betis coach Llorenç Serra could therefore turn to Arzu García.

Deportivo boost
RC Deportivo La Coruña striker Diego Tristán is back from injury for the home match against Getafe CF on Saturday. "Recently things have not turned out as I would have liked, and for that reason I am eager to get out and start playing again. Getafe are a tricky side, but these days there are no pushovers."

Zaragoza hope
Spain's other UEFA Cup group stage representatives, Real Zaragoza, Athletic Club Bilbao and Villarreal CF, play on Sunday. Zaragoza are confident that centre-back Gabriel Milito will be available for the visit of Real Sociedad de Fútbol, following a shoulder injury.

Home and away
Athletic welcome Málaga CF to San Mamés. Villarreal will be deprived of Rodolfo Arruabarrena and Javier Calleja when bottom-placed RCD Mallorca arrive at El Madrigal. Elsewhere, David Sánchez is suspended for Albacete Balompié's trip to CA Osasuna, CD Numancia are at home to Levante UD, and Club Atlético de Madrid entertain Real Racing Club Santander.

Last updated: 17/10/04 0.05CET

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