Key duo could miss out for Atletico

A look ahead to the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division as Atletico Madrid aim to take another step closer to the title.

Last Updated: 04/04/14 at 18:29 Post Comment

Diego Costa: Limped off in the Champions League

Diego Costa: Limped off in the Champions League

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Atletico Madrid will attempt to take another step closer to their first Primera Division title since 1996 when they host Villarreal on Saturday - but look set to be without key duo Diego Costa and Arda Turan.

Both Costa, second in this season's scoring charts behind Cristiano Ronaldo with 25 goals, and Arda suffered injuries in Tuesday's Champions League draw at Barcelona and it remains to be seen when they will be available again.

Losing either star striker Costa (hamstring) or Turkey playmaker Arda (groin) for any period of time would be a major blow for Atletico, who are still in the hunt for two trophies this season.

They boast a one-point lead at the top of La Liga heading into the final seven games, while in Europe they host Barca in their quarter-final second leg next Wednesday having earned a creditable 1-1 draw from this week's trip to the Nou Camp.

Atletico midfielder Raul Garcia acknowledges the two players are vital to the team, but is confident the Rojiblancos have the strength in depth to cope if they are sidelined.

He said: "These are things that can happen, especially at this stage of the season and competing at this level.

"We really believe in all the players in the team, but we're not going to hide the fact that they (Costa and Arda) are important players for us.

"(However) we have every confidence in all of the players to help the team. This is a committed team, because those who have fewer minutes than the starters always deliver when they're needed."

Third-placed Real Madrid, who are three points behind Atletico, also have a major injury concern ahead of their tough trip to Real Sociedad with star man Ronaldo sitting out squad training on Friday.

The Portugal star sustained what appeared to be a knee problem late on in Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund, having earlier in the night scored a record-equalling 14th goal of this season's competition.

Treble-chasing Madrid can ill afford to drop any more points if they want to overhaul both Atletico and Barca above them after suffering damaging back-to-back defeats to the reigning champions and Sevilla last week.

Not everything is rosy in the Barca camp either though, with the Catalan giants this week being handed a one-year transfer ban by FIFA for breaching rules on the transfer of players aged under 18.

While Barca try to fight that sanction off the pitch, Gerardo Martino's side will be hoping to continue their own pursuit of the treble on it with victory over rock-bottom Real Betis at the Nou Camp.

Betis look destined for the Segunda Division as they are eight points adrift of safety, but the other two relegation spots are still wide open with six points separating nine teams.

The two clubs currently occupying those places in the bottom three, Almeria and Osasuna, meet on Friday night, while their fellow relegations rivals Elche and Getafe clash on Sunday.

In the other matches affecting the relegation dogfight, fourth-bottom Real Valladolid face Valencia, Rayo Vallecano meet Celta Vigo,and Granada go to Malaga.

Elsewhere, fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao travel to Levante on Monday night looking to maintain their six-point gap over fifth-placed Sevilla, who take on Espanyol 24 hours previously.


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