La Liga Previews: Real trying to ignore turmoil

MADRID - Brief news from the Primera Liga ahead of this weekend's matches:

The off-field controversy that has blown up around Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon is not helping the champions' attempts to cut Barcelona's 12-point lead in the Primera Liga, veteran defender Michel Salgado (pictured) said.

"We are on a good run and it (the controversy) is not welcome. We are on the up and trying to isolate ourselves from it all," Salgado told sports daily AS.

Real Madrid, who have won three on the trot, host bottom club Osasuna at the Bernabeu on Sunday. Calderon has been under pressure this week after Marca newspaper published allegations of irregularities at the club's general assembly last month.

Leaders Barcelona are prepared for another bruising encounter when they receive Deportivo Coruna at the Nou Camp on Saturday, Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure said.

"The team are having to work harder in games because our rivals are playing more defensively. Also, games are now more physical than technical and some teams are committing a lot of fouls against us," he said.

Depor, seventh, have lost their last three games in all competitions and were knocked out of the King's Cup by Sevilla on Wednesday.

Depor's former Barca youth team player Joan Verdu said of their trip to the Nou Camp: "It will be our toughest game of the year."

Third-placed Sevilla host Numancia on Saturday without suspended goalkeeper Andres Palop. Javi Varas is set to make his league debut between the posts.

French defender Abdoulay Konko has been ruled out with a groin injury that could keep him sidelined for a number of weeks.

Valencia, who set up a King's Cup quarter-final meeting with Sevilla during the week, face a tough match away to improving Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. Bilbao are unbeaten in eight in all competitions.

"The important thing is we are alive in three competitions. The team are working well, and we are on a roll," Valencia's in-form winger Joaquin said.

Argentina striker Sergio Aguero is a doubt for Atletico Madrid's trip to face Almeria on Sunday after being substituted with leg cramps in their midweek King's Cup defeat away to Barcelona.

Playmaker Maniche is suspended which means Ever Banega is set to get another start in midfield as the side look to end a run of four straight defeats in all competitions.

Villarreal, who have dropped down to sixth and are without a win in six games in all competitions, host struggling Real Mallorca on Sunday.

"If we want to have a chance of finishing in the top four we cannot afford to drop any more points at home, whoever we play," striker Guillermo Franco said.


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