Luis Suarez will make his competitive home debut as La Liga leaders Barcelona look to put the disappointment of their defeat to Real Madrid last weekend behind them against Celta Vigo today.The Catalans’ defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu was their first in the league since coach Luis Enrique left Celta in May to take charge at the Camp Nou and brought Barca back into a five-strong pack at the top of the table separated by just two points.Suarez returned from a four-month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup to make his Barca bow against Madrid and had a positive immediate impact as he set up Neymar’s early opener.The Uruguayan also produced a sublime assist for Gerard Pique as Barca lifted the Catalan Supercup with victory on penalties over Espanyol in midweek and Luis Enrique has been impressed with Suarez’s contribution so far.
‘He played very well, he made the right decisions most of the time and was always involved our play,’ said Luis Enrique.‘His movement was good and he was desperate to play, as were the rest of the squad.’Lionel Messi and Neymar were given a rare night off on Wednesday, but will return to form their deadly partnership with 20 goals and 12 assists between them in 12 games so far this season.Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic are also expected to return after being surprisingly dropped against Madrid, while Andres Iniesta is sidelined with a calf injury.Real Madrid have the chance to knock Barca off the top for at least a few hours when they look for an 11th consecutive win in all competitions at Granada earlier today.
And captain Iker Casillas wants the European champions to have that position locked down by the time La Liga shuts down for Christmas in seven weeks’ time.
‘We need to try and get first place in La Liga before Christmas, after beating Barcelona we have taken a huge step forward.’Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will all return having been rested for Wednesday’s 4-1 win over UD Cornella in the Copa del Rey.However, Gareth Bale remains a major doubt with the muscle injury that has forced him to miss the last four games.
Champions Atletico Madrid can also temporarily leapfrog Barcelona when they host struggling Cordoba at the Vicente Calderon.A run of four wins in five games has brought Diego Simeone’s side back to within two points of the top and they will be extra motivated this weekend after players and fans alike reacted with fury at the lack of recognition they received at the La Liga awards ceremony for last season earlier in the week.‘Atletico Madrid were the best in La Liga last season. The La Liga awards don’t diminish that. Last season we were the best,’ said Simeone, who won Atletico’s only individual award as coach of the season.
‘Maybe if we win the league again we will win some award next year.’