MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead of this weekend's matches:
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola will be without suspended central defender Gerard Pique and injured pair Seydou Keita and Eric Abidal for the trip to Almeria on Saturday.
A win would put the champions five points clear of second-placed Real Madrid, who host Sevilla, in fourth, in the late kick-off.
Barca are the most difficult team to win the ball from and keep possession against, Almeria coach Juan Manuel Lillo said in an interview with Friday's As sports daily.
"There is only one ball and they usually have it," said Lillo, who took over when Hugo Sanchez was sacked at the end of last year. "When we have it we'll try to make it difficult for them to get it back."
Real coach Manuel Pellegrini has both midfielder Guti and defender Alvaro Arbeloa available for the Sevilla match after injury and suspension respectively but striker Karim Benzema and midfielder Royston Drenthe are still sidelined.
A win over Sevilla would give Real a boost for Wednesday's Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Olympique Lyon, when they are looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit from last month's first leg in France, Guti said.
"We are full of desire and if you add in the excitement and the motivation our fans will give us then we can get positive results in both the Sevilla match and the game against Lyon," he said on Real's website.
Sevilla beat Real 2-1 at their Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in October and Pellegrini said even if Real lost again there were still plenty of matches remaining for them to catch Barca.
"There are 14 games left and even if we lose to Sevilla Barca might easily lose a couple of matches too," Pellegrini said at a news conference on Friday.
"As long as there is still a mathematical possibility you can't give anything up as lost."
Sevilla midfielder Renato, who scored the winner both in October and in the Andalusians' win at the Bernabeu last season, is out of Saturday's match due to a foot injury, Sevilla said on their website on Friday.
Coach Manolo Jimenez is also missing striker Luis Fabiano, who has a chest injury. Jimenez told a news conference on Friday that the club would know more about the extent of the injury and a possible date for the Brazilian's return to action after further tests on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid's new Argentine forward Eduardo Salvio has recovered from the injury he arrived with in January and told a news conference on Friday he was available for Sunday's trip to Real Zaragoza.
"I have got over my injury problems and now it's up to the coach to decide if I start," Salvio said.comments