Barcelona and Real Madrid continue the fight for the title before the Super Cup
MADRID: Barcelona and Real Madrid resume their war of attrition on Saturday when the action of the Spanish league returns briefly before the couple head controversially to Saudi Arabia for the Supercup next weekend.
The leaders of the league and the defending champions of Barcelona have an easy journey to cross the rival of the city, the Espanyol, who staggers at the end of the table.
However, Espanyol hired former Barça player Abelardo Fernández in the hope of changing his fortune after losing to Leganés in second place just before the Christmas holidays.
Ernesto Valverde's Barça has been undefeated in all competitions since the beginning of November and is two points ahead of Real Madrid despite some performances below par.
Meanwhile, Madrid returns to action after three straight draws before the break, including a goalless stalemate in the classic 'Politician' in December.
They also have a more complicated task than Barça, with another derby against a Getafe team that shows that their fifth place last year was no accident.
Coach Zinedine will be without the injured Eden Hazard for the clash, captain Sergio Ramos It is suspended, although James Rodriguez, Brazilian Marcelo and Lucas Vázquez are available.
Both Barça and Real can change their lineups given their controversial trip to Saudi Arabia to play the Super Cup, along with Atlético de Madrid and Valencia, starting on January 8.
The decision to hold a four-team tournament in Saudi Arabia in the European winter in November over the next three years has caused a storm in Spain.
The Spanish public broadcaster RTVE refused to bid for the rights of the party because it is celebrated in a country where human rights are not respected.
Barça will face Atlético and Valencia will play with Real before the end of January 12, a radical renewal of what has traditionally been the backdrop of the season between the champions of the league and the winners of the Cup King.
The tournament schedule means that La Liga will take another break while the Super Cup is played, and the league's action will resume on January 17.
Atlético will go to the tournament looking over the shoulder in the league.
Diego Simeone's team was very inconsistent before the winter break, and has found hard-to-reach goals despite spending 126 million euros ($ 142 million) on Joao Felix in the summer.
Atleti, fourth ranked, has a score of only 20 times in 18 games and has Getafe, Real society , Valencia and Athletic Bilbao, all on the heels for the last place in the Champions League.