Tough away games for Barca, Real Madrid
Posted on Aug 30 2014 | IANS
Madrid, Aug 30 : FC Barcelona and Real Madrid both face testing away trips as they play their second game of the Spanish Primera Liga season Sunday.
Barcelona, fresh from a comfortable and moral boosting 3-0 win at home to Elche on the opening day of the campaign, travel to face Villarreal, reports Xinhua.
Although, it is still early days of the campaign, Villarreal have played an attacking game and it will be interesting to see if Luis Enrique's revolution for Barcelona will be able to deal with one of the sides who are favourites for a top-six finish this campaign.
Barcelona are without the suspended Javier Mascherano and the doubt is whether the coach will replace him with Gerard Pique, who was left out of Vicente del Bosque's Spain squad Friday for "fitness" issues, or Marc Bartra, who did get the call from Del Bosque.
Meanwhile, Neymar has recovered from his ankle injury and returns to action to form an exciting attack alongside Lionel Messi and teenager Munir, who last week capped his first team debut with a goal.
Real Madrid travel to San Sebastian to play Real Sociedad and also have questions to answer after a difficult week at the club, which has seen the departure of Angel Di Maria to Manchester United, followed by a press conference in which he implied he had been forced out, and Xabi Alonso to Bayern Munich.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti will have to cover Di Maria's departure with James Rodriguez, despite the fact that the big money signing is a different style of player to the winger.
Real Madrid looked sluggish and well below their best when they beat newly promoted Cordoba a week ago, but that could have been a hangover from playing the Spanish Supercup three days earlier, Sunday will be a good chance to see where they really are in their preparations.
Meanwhile rivals Real Sociedad are in an early season crisis after losing their opening game of the season to newly promoted Eibar and then crashing out of the Europa League with a dismal 0-3 defeat to Russian side, Krasnodar.