No Ronaldo as Real Madrid look to start matchday 21 with a win

January 30, 2015 1:58 am 

MADRID, Jan. 29 — Real Madrid get the ball rolling for Spain' s matchday 21 when they entertain Real Sociedad in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The leaders of the BBVA Primera Liga will be without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was banned for two games on Wednesday for his sending off in Cordoba last weekend, and central defender, Pepe, who is out with a rib injury.

Jose Rodriguez has a chance of stepping into the Madrid side, who need to improve after a poor start to 2015, despite winning their last three league games.

Real Sociedad travel to the capital as the only side in the Primera Liga without a win away from home.

Atletico Madrid have little time to brush themselves down after their bruising King' s Cup exit against Barcelona (although in fairness it was Atletico who did most of the bruising), before they face a tough trip to take on Eibar, who will be well-organized and combative.

Mario Mandzukic will return for the visitors, who cannot afford to drop points just a week before they take on Real Madrid in the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

Those two duels which affect the top of the table are followed by two matches which could have a bearing on the relegation zone.

Elche need to recover from their 6-0 thrashing at home to Barcelona before travelling to bottom of the table Granada, who showed signs of recovery under new coach Abel Resino, when they took a draw in La Coruna last week.

Cordoba then travel to face Celta Vigo, who have dropped into the relegation battle after failing to win for their last 10 games, during which they have scored just two goals.

Cordoba meanwhile have improved under Miroslav Djukic and were desperately unlucky to lose to Real Madrid last week.

Sunday kicks off with another relegation battle with Levante entertaining Athletic Club Bilbao. Athletic have taken just 2 points from their last nine games and have been given little recovery time following Thursday' s King' s Cup quarter-final.

Almeria and Getafe keep the focus on the bottom half of the table before Sevilla take on Espanyol in what is a rematch from their King' s Cup quarter-final.

Barcelona round off Sunday with what promises to be a thrilling game at home to Villarreal. Both sides like to play open attacking football and Barca have hit form in recent weeks, with Leo Messi and Neymar scoring goals almost at will.

Luis Enrique' s side have also rediscovered their killer instinct and will to dig deep, which may be due to the fact that the coach has now more or less settled on a fixed starting 11 and ended his policy of squad rotations.

Villarreal meanwhile are fighting for a place in the top four and have traditionally caused Barca problems in the Camp Nou Stadium.

Finally the round of matches ends on Monday when Malaga entertain fourth place Valencia in the La Rosaleda Stadium. (PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/RSM

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