Mascherano: Form not important for Clasico

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

Recent form is irrelevant for Monday's 'clasico' at the Nou Camp against La Liga leaders Real Madrid as these type of matches are a one-off, Barcelona's Javier Mascherano has said.

"I'm one of those that doesn't believe that current form is important for a 'clasico'," the Argentina midfielder told reporters.

"We are at home in front of our own fans, which gives us a small plus, but we know we are up against a great team that is doing very well. They aren't leaders by accident."

Real and second-placed Barcelona both head into the match with five consecutive wins in all competitions.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola gave his side a rest day on Friday and does not have any major injury problems for the clash.

Real's Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain and Germany midfielder Sami Khedira worked in the gym on Thursday recovering from the back and thigh problems respectively that kept them out of the midweek Ajax game, but both are expected to be fit in time.

Spanish media have speculated that Real coach Jose Mourinho could alter his standard 4-2-3-1 formation by fielding Lassana Diarra in place of the more creative Mesut Ozil, to add extra bite to his midfield.

Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido can celebrate signing a new contract which ties him to the club until 2014 with a victory away to La Liga basement side Real Zaragoza on Saturday.

The third-placed club will be without left back Joan Capdevila who twisted an ankle in last week's draw against Valencia, sidelining him for up to three weeks.

After failing to score a goal for almost two months, Uruguay striker Diego Forlan has now netted three in his last two games with Atletico Madrid. The sixth-placed club host fourth-placed Espanyol on Saturday.

"I have to thank coach Quique Sanchez Flores," Forlan told daily Marca. "It was his idea that I played fewer minutes (to rest after the World Cup) and I didn't agree... but now I feel different on the pitch and much better."

Getafe coach Michel has been under pressure after a run of seven games without a win in any competition but has had the backing of the president ahead of their trip to Sevilla on Saturday.

"Angel Torres was very clear about the situation. The players and myself feel reassured," Michel told reporters.

In-form Spain striker Fernando Llorente, who has nine league goals this season, has had a stomach complaint which has disrupted his preparations for Athletic Bilbao's home clash with northern rivals Osasuna on Sunday.

New Almeria coach Jose Luis Oltra debuts away at Valencia on Sunday, hoping for a reaction after the 8-0 thrashing suffered against Barca last weekend that led to the sacking of his predecessor Juan Manuel Lillo.