Messi, Suarez resume domestic duties with tricky trip to Real Sociedad
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are both back for domestic duties as second-placed Barcelona resume their chase of La Liga leader Real Madrid with a tricky trip to red-hot Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Barcelona, into the Champions League last 16 as Group C winners with a 2-0 win at Celtic on Wednesday, are four points behind Real Madrid who will host Sporting Gijon on Saturday without the injured Gareth Bale.
"We have achieved our aim, which was to qualify as first of our group and now we need to turn our focus to La Liga," Barcelona centre back Javier Mascherano told www.fcbarcelona.com.
Messi, who scored both goals against Celtic, did not play in last weekend's goalless draw against Malaga because of a stomach bug and Suarez was suspended, but both will be available this weekend.
Real Sociedad have scored 10 goals and conceded just one during their four-game winning streak but they will be up against the creme de la creme on Sunday.
"Messi, Suarez and Neymar are top quality players, the best you could find in the world," Mascherano said. "When they are on form, they come together and do things like they did against Celtic."
Real will not be at full strength with Bale out indefinitely after suffering an ankle injury in the club's 2-1 victory against Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday.
The league leaders are unbeaten in their last 30 games in all competitions and Bale, who will undergo surgery next week and will also miss the 'Clasico' against Real on Dec. 3, has been a big reason why.
He has scored seven goals and set up three more in 16 starts this season.
Sporting Gijon, without an away win this season, travel to Madrid while languishing in 18th place.
Atletico Madrid, who beat PSV Eindhoven 2-0 on Wednesday, are desperate to show the same form that has allowed them to have a perfect record in the Champions League when they square off against Osasuna on Sunday.
Atletico slumped to sixth, nine points behind Real after their 3-0 home defeat in last weekend's derby.
Osasuna have lost seven of their 12 league games this season.
(Reporting by Adriana Garcia, editing by Julien Pretot and Pritha Sarkar)