Brief news from La Liga ahead of this weekend's matchday 10.
Barcelona forward and league top scorer Lionel Messi should be available for the leaders' game at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday despite the birth of his first child, coach Tito Vilanova said on Friday.
"In principle he'll be available for the match," Vilanova, who had a stint at Celta as a player, told a news conference. "It won't change anything that he hasn't trained for one day, it's not significant."
Barca centre-back Gerard Pique has been out for more than a month with a foot injury and will again be sidelined on Saturday but Vilanova said he expected the Spain international to be back training with his team-mates soon.
"He has been training more intensely for some days now and it's a matter of a few days before he returns to work with us," Vilanova said.
"It's important to get players back [from injury], above all in that position, where Carles Puyol is also missing," he added. Puyol has not played since dislocating an elbow in last month's Champions League win at Benfica.
Goalkeeper Javi Varas returns to the Nou Camp in the colours of Celta just over a year after his brilliant performance for previous club Sevilla helped them secure a 0-0 La Liga draw.
"In terms of media coverage it was my best night but on a personal level I have had better games," Varas, who saved a Messi penalty in added time, told Barca TV.
Real Madrid should have Alvaro Arbeloa back for their game at home to Real Zaragoza on Saturday after he returned to full training this week and coach Jose Mourinho included him in his squad.
The Spain international was injured on duty with the world and European champions last month and joined fellow full-backs Marcelo of Brazil and Portugal's Fabio Coentrao, who are both still out of action, on the sidelines.
Real have hauled themselves up to fourth after a poor start to their title defence but remain eight points behind Barca and Atletico Madrid, who are second on goal difference.
Mourinho told a news conference Real would still be without the injured Sami Khedira and central midfield partner Xabi Alonso, who is suspended for the game at the Bernabeu after picking up a fifth yellow card last weekend.
"I would like to have Khedira and Xabi, obviously, but there is no problem as we have the squad to cope with these things," Mourinho said.
"We don't have Xabi and Khedira but we have other players we will use and we are confident we can get the points which are so important," added the Portuguese.
Zaragoza, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, have won their last two matches and climbed to ninth and are hoping for a repeat of their surprise 3-2 win at Real's Bernabeu stadium in April 2011.
"The Bernabeu is always intimidating but we are not going to write off any matches," coach Manuel Jimenez told a news conference on Friday. "We are going there with the intention of getting at least a point."
Atletico, who have been in superb form under inspirational coach Diego Simeone, face a stiff test on Saturday at 11th-placed Valencia, who are looking to get their season back on track after an erratic start.
Simeone, who won the La Liga and King's Cup double with Atletico as a player in 1996, had some words of encouragement for under-pressure Valencia coach and Argentine compatriot Mauricio Pellegrino on Friday.
"He is working with a lot of enthusiasm," Simeone said. "He is a very intelligent lad and with the team he has in Valencia for sure he's going to have a great season, I have no doubt about that."
Third-placed Malaga, a point ahead of Real, may have Jeremy Toulalan back for their game at home to Rayo Vallecano on Saturday after the French midfielder returned to training on Thursday.
Long-term injury casualty Julio Baptista (Achilles tendon) and Nacho Monreal, who has been out since last month with back trouble, are continuing their recovery in the gym, Malaga said in a statement on their website.comments