Previews: Depor to short-circuit Barca midfield

MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead of this weekend's matches: Deportivo La Coruna's rise to fifth in La Liga has been built around a well-organised, no-frills approach to matches, and veteran midfielder Sergio said they were clear about how to stop leaders Barcelona on Saturday.

"We know the ball has to go through midfield to get to the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi," he said. "We need to cause a short-circuit there. You need to get four, five or six players in the centre." Unbeaten Barca have set a club record of 33 points from their opening 13 league matches but have struggled to impress on their travels this year. Wednesday's win in Xerez was their first in four away trips.

"We know every team studies and prepares for us in great detail," midfielder Seydou Keita said. "The only solution we have is to work harder than they do." Real Madrid playmaker Kaka has worked apart from the squad all week recovering from a nagging groin injury, along with the injured Christoph Metzelder, Guti and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The Brazilian was left out of the squad for the visit of mid-table Almeria on Saturday. Lassana Diarra is suspended so Argentine Fernando Gago returns to the side. Third-placed Sevilla will be without suspended midfield dynamo Didier Zokora when Real Valladolid visit on Saturday. Defenders Adriano Correia and Julien Escude are close to returning from injury. Fourth-placed Valencia will be without the injured David Silva when they travel to San Mames on Sunday to play Athletic Bilbao. In-form Argentine midfielder Ever Banega is suspended. Bilbao overcame Austria Vienna 3-0 away to progress in the Europa League on Thursday, in a match marred by crowd disturbances and a 30-minute break in play after a pitch invasion by home fans.

"We were worried for our supporters. The conduct of Austria Vienna was perfect with us... but people who love this sport must try and stop these types of bad images " Bilbao coach Joaquin Caparros said. Atletico Madrid have goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo and winger Jose Antonio Reyes fit for action when they travel south to play bottom club Xerez on Saturday. The two struggled with injuries during the week. French striker Florent Sinama Pongolle is out with a muscle strain. Atletico are after their first away win in the league.


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