MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead of this weekend's matches:
Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was able to train normally again on Friday after shaking off a calf problem and could feature for the champions in Saturday's match at city rivals Espanyol.
Left-back Eric Abidal also returned to the training ground this week after injury as Barca bid to extend their lead over Real Madrid at the top to six points ahead of their arch-rivals' game at home to third-placed Valencia on Sunday.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola is hoping there will not be a repeat of the disturbances among fans that have marred some recent meetings between Barca and Espanyol.
"There's no point in taking things out of context, it's a football match," he told a news conference on Friday. "Let's hope there are no incidents and the best team wins."
Espanyol will be the most difficult opponent Guardiola's side will face during the remainder of the season, according to Barca's Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure.
"They are a very tricky team in their own stadium and they are preparing very well," Toure said at a news conference on Thursday. "They always want to beat Barca."
Espanyol's appeal against a red card shown to goalkeeper Carlos Kameni last weekend was successful and the Cameroon international is available for the Barca match, the club said on their website on Friday.
Real will battle for the league title until the last, coach Manuel Pellegrini said after Thursday's 2-1 comeback win at mid-table Almeria.
He added that he was not concerned about getting the sack with the club in danger of ending the season without a trophy.
"We will fight...to continue accumulating points and putting pressure on Barca," the Chilean told a news conference. "Now Valencia are coming (to the Bernabeu) and it will be very hard to win the match."
Real director general Jorge Valdano reiterated the club's backing for Pellegrini after the victory in Almeria.
"It's not the right time to make an assessment," Valdano said in a television interview. "The club has already said through me that they are happy with his work. We will make decisions at the appropriate time."
Real central defender Raul Albiol accused referees of being too harsh on him after he was booked for a foul in the Almeria match and will be suspended for the match against his former club Valencia.
"I do one kick a match and they show me a yellow card," the Spain international told reporters. "I am going to miss a match that I was looking forward to a lot."
* Valencia coach Unai Emery conceded after Thursday's 2-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao that his side perform much better at their Mestalla stadium than on their travels.
"It hurts me to say it but there are two Valencias," he told a news conference. "Away from home the team loses and we have to work on that."
There are three matches affecting relegation-threatened clubs on Sunday.
Bottom side Xerez, who are making a late bid to avoid the drop on their La Liga debut, host Racing Santander.
The tiny Andalucian club have 26 points from 32 matches, two behind 19th-placed Real Valladolid, who play at Malaga, in 17th on 32 points.
Eighteenth-placed Tenerife (29) host Getafe, who are in seventh and bidding for a lucrative European spot.comments