Iniesta set for Barcelona return

Brief news from La Liga ahead of this weekend's matches:

Andres Iniesta is set to return for Barcelona after injury when the champions host Racing Santander on Saturday.

The Spain midfielder has been out for a month with a hamstring injury.

Eric Abidal and Cesc Fabregas are doubts as they, too, recover from hamstring injuries, while Alexis Sanchez and Ibrahim Afellay are out.

Gonzalo Higuain will probably start for Real Madrid at home to promoted Real Betis on Saturday with Karim Benzema still working to recover from a muscle strain.

Midfielder Nuri Sahin and defenders Ricardo Carvalho and Raul Albiol are all out with injuries.

Defender Carlos Marchena returns from injury but Villarreal have problems in attack with Brazil forward Nilmar recovering from knee surgery and Argentine Marco Ruben a doubt for their trip to Getafe on Saturday.

"We accept that the fans are not satisfied with the team. We know we can do more and now is the moment we need to react," under-fire coach Juan Carlos Garrido said of their run of eight matches with one win in all competitions.

Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo┬┤s thigh strain, which forced him out of the Spain squad for their recent Euro 2012 qualifiers, means that Manu del Moral may be asked to lead the line when Sporting Gijon visit on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid will be without Turkey midfielder Arda Turan, who has a strained groin muscle, at promoted Granada on Saturday.

Valencia are without Tino Costa, who has a hamstring injury, and Dutch international Hedwiges Maduro, who has been ruled out for four months after surgery on ankle ligaments this week.

Valencia visit Real Mallorca on Saturday for the debut of their new coach, the well-known taskmaster Joaquin Caparros, who replaced Michael Laudrup.

"He has really pushed us this week," Mallorca striker Victor told sports daily As. "They have been very hard training sessions. Since he arrived he has been drumming it into us all to pressure opponents and to run a lot."


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