Laudrup: Guardiola's Barca the best

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

Michael Laudrup has said that Pep Guardiola's Barcelona team are better than the side he played in under Johan Cruyff during the early 1990s.

"Frank Rijkaard's Barca was superior to ours because they had more individual talent, but Pep's team have even more quality and they put more pressure on you," Real Mallorca coach Laudrup told Mundo Deportivo.

The Dane, whose side host La Liga leaders Barcelona on Saturday, added: "For me, this is the best Barca side."

Barca, who lead by five points, will be without injured goalkeeper Victor Valdes, defender Carles Puyol and midfielder Xavi. Dani Alves is suspended.

Lionel Messi is expected to be fit after missing Wednesday's training session with a bruised calf.

Cristiano Ronaldo has recovered from a bruised ankle and is expected to start when second-placed Real Madrid visit Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho's team have only won once at the Riazor in their last 18 league visits.

Deportivo, 13th and three points above the relegation places, are boosted by return from injury of Mexico forward Andres Guardado.

They are La Liga's joint lowest scorers with 21 goals from 24 games, three less than Ronaldo's personal tally.

"To beat Madrid is to guarantee our survival in the top flight," Depor coach Miguel Angel Lotina told reporters. "For the points gained, for the self-esteem and for many other reasons."

Third-placed Valencia travel to fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao on Sunday unbeaten in their last ten league matches.

Midfielder Mehmet Topal is a doubt while David Albelda and striker Aritz Aduriz are injured.

Villarreal, fourth, ended a run of four matches without a win beating Napoli 2-1 to qualify for the last 16 of the Europa Leaue on Thursday. They visit Racing Santander on Sunday.

"We qualified playing football, regaining our confidence and believing in our style of play," coach Juan Carlos Garrido told reporters.

Uruguay forward Diego Forlan is doubtful with a sprained ankle for Atletico Madrid's home match against Sevilla on Saturday.

A re-run of last season's King's Cup final sees both clubs struggling to make up lost ground in the push for the European places. Sevilla are seventh, one point ahead of Atletico in ninth.

"If we want to return to Europe we need to do well this coming week," Atletico midfielder Tiago told sports daily Marca. "Sevilla and Villarreal visit the Calderon and it's vital to win at home."