x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Puyol warning for Barca

Primera Liga leaders Barcelona go in search of a 10th straight league win against Getafe, something the Catalans have only managed twice before.

The Barcelona playmaker Lionel Messi is a doubt for the Getafe match.
The Barcelona playmaker Lionel Messi is a doubt for the Getafe match.

BARCELONA // Primera Liga leaders Barcelona go in search of a 10th straight league win against mid-table Getafe, something the Catalans have only managed twice before. Victor Munoz's Getafe side from Madrid's southern suburbs have lost just once away from home in the league, though their mood will not have been helped by a training ground altercation between Mario Cotelo and Cosmin Contra on Friday.

With title contenders Real Madrid, Villarreal, Valencia and Sevilla in action last night, Barca will be keen to get three points as they still have difficult league games against all their four main title rivals, but the captain Carles Puyol has warned against over confidence. "We haven't won anything yet," said the defender, who was named alongside teammates Xavi and Lionel Messi in the FIFPro XI for 2008.

"Everybody is talking about how well we are doing and the atmosphere is very good in the squad, but we must keep our feet on the ground." Messi is a doubt for Barca after he reported a pain in his right thigh in Friday's training session. Barca will not risk their best player given the demanding fixtures ahead, starting with Wednesday's Champions League game away to Sporting Lisbon. It was against Getafe that Messi scored his greatest individual goal in a cup game two seasons ago. Barca won 5-2, but lost the second leg 4-0 and were eliminated, a defeat which still pains Puyol.

"We were one step away from the final so that defeat hurt us," Puyol said. "Getafe are a team who always cause us problems and we'll have to be at our best to beat them." The positive mood in the Barca camp was reflected by the news that Spain's top scorer Samuel Eto'o will be offered a new contact, a remarkable change in fortune for the striker. Alongside Ronaldinho and Deco, new coach Pep Guardiola considered Eto'o difficult and allowed him to leave in the summer, yet Eto'o stayed and his change in attitude has delighted everyone at the Camp Nou and contributed to the club's upturn in form.

In the other games, sixth placed Atletico Madrid travel to 17th placed Numancia, the Madrid side having welcomed their nine-goal top scorer Sergio Aguero back to training after he returned from Argentina's camp in Scotland to be with his pregnant partner Giannina Maradona - daughter of Diego. Deportivo La Coruna are in seventh place, despite scoring just 10 goals in 11 games. The Galicians host struggling Athletic Bilbao, who have yet to win away this season, though they were boosted by victory last week in a Basque derby against Osasuna, their first league win in eight games.

Other matches, Mallorca entertain Malaga, Espanyol travel to Racing Santander, in form Sporting Gijon host Real Betis and Osasuna play Almeria. amitten@thenational.ae