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Saturday sees old friend return, two sides with problems meet in Bilbao
Last Updated: 2017-12-01 11:25 | Xinhua
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Saturday promises to be another vital day in this season's Liga Santander as a familiar face returns to the Camp Nou Stadium while a Real Madrid side struggling for form visits crisis-hit Athletic Club Bilbao.

The round of games kicks off with Malaga returning to focus on escaping the relegation zone following their exit from the King's Cup to second division Numancia during the week.

Levante visit the La Rosaleda Stadium, knowing they are a bit too close to the drop zone for comfort.

Barcelona have a rare lunchtime kickoff on Saturday when they entertain Celta Vigo, who are coached by former assistant in the Camp Nou, Juan Carlos Unzue. Unzue has tried to take Barca's fluid style to Celta and his side is improving after a slow start to the campaign.

Barca welcome Gerard Pique back after suspension last week in Valencia and coach Ernesto Valverde will field his strongest possible 11, given that next week's Champions League tie at home to Sporting Lisbon is a dead rubber with qualification for the next phase of the tournament assured.

Atletico Madrid are next in action and welcome Real Sociedad who are reeling after surrendering a 3-0 advantage in the Cup to crash out at home to third tier side Lleida. The defeat highlighted once again the visitors' defensive weaknesses and after getting back among the goals in recent matches, former Real Sociedad striker, Antoine Griezmann, and Kevin Gameiro should add to their tallies on Saturday.

Sevilla assistant coach Ernesto Marcucci will be on the dugout for the first time in the league as Eduardo Berizzo recovers from his prostate cancer operation. Sevilla are at home to fourth from bottom Deportivo la Coruna, but may rotate players ahead of next week's must win Champions League tie against Maribor.

Real Madrid have failed to convince of late and Gareth Bale, who saved their day against Fuenlabrada in the Cup, will be rested as a precaution for their visit to San Mames to face Athletic Club Bilbao.

San Mames has always been a hostile ground for Madrid to visit, but after crashing out of the Cup to third tier Formentera, Athletic are in a state of shock and coach 'Kuko' Ziganda under extreme pressure.

Ziganda will hope that with Aymeric Laporte suspended, the return of Mikel Rico, Markel Susaeta and Aritz Aduriz to the side will provide the bite that was lacking in Wednesday's fiasco.

After a four game losing streak Leganes entertain Villarreal, who last weekend suffered their first league defeat under Javier Calleja, before second placed Valencia visit Getafe.

Valencia will be without Goncalo Guedes after a foot operation and coach Marcelino Garcia, who returns to the bench after suspension, will have to decide whether to risk Simone Zaza's knee or allow the striker to rest due to a meniscus ligament problem.

Eibar aim to continue their upturn in form against Espanyol, who struggle away from home, while bottom of the table Las Palmas, who on Wednesday night sacked Paco Ayestaran as coach and lost Vitolo with a muscle injury, face Betis, another side who suffer away from home.

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