Little and large: Huesca welcome mighty Real Madrid to tiny ground Gomez faces six weeks out
LUKA MODRIC has been voted the best player on the planet and Real Madrid crowned European champions three times in a row but in Huesca on Sunday they will meet a team from the opposite end of the ladder.
Madrid’s stars gathered in Paris on Monday, dressed in shiny black suits and bow-ties, to watch their midfield magician collect the Ballon d’Or, ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
From the glitzy setting of the Ballon d’Or awards at the Grand Palais on the Champs-Elysees they head to Huesca, whose recently-expanded stadium has a capacity of just over 7,000, in a town of little more than 52,000 people.
There, they face La Liga’s bottom club, who were promoted to the top flight for the first time at the end of last season.
In the summer of 2013, while Real were buying Gareth Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric and Real Madrid head to Huesca and their tiny stadium on Sunday. Bale for a world record £85 million, Huesca signed seven players for a total cost of … nothing.
After a slow start Madrid have finally hit good form and despite changing coach this season, a scoreless drought that lasted more than eight hours and a thrashing at the hands of Barcelona, they are only five point off the top.
They also had some fun on Friday (Thailand time) cruising into the Copa del Rey last 16 with a 6-1 rout of third-tier Melilla to progress 10-1 on aggregate.
The top-flight programme in France has been decimated by the cancellation of several games, including the much-anticipated clash between Monaco and local rivals Nice, managed by one-time Arsenal teammates, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.
The French league (LFP) says it is too risky to allow the games to go ahead amid fears of more violent “yellow vest” protests over rising living costs.
Sunday night’s encounter between Saint-Etienne and Marseille and Saturday’s meeting of Angers and Bordeaux have also been postponed on the request of local authorities.
The latest postponements come after Paris SaintGermain’s game against Montpellier and Lyon’s trip to Toulouse—scheduled for Saturday—were both called off due to security concerns, and the possibility remains that all other Ligue 1 games could be postponed too.
Schalke 04 plot to become the first Bundesliga side to beat Borussia Dortmund this season and extend the German league leaders’ recent misery in Gelsenkirchen in Saturday’s Ruhr derby.
This is the first time in six years Dortmund go into the derby top of the table, but they last won at the Veltins Arena half a decade ago.
A gulf of 19 points and 12 places in the table separates the clubs, who are only 33kms apart, but Schalke are itching to get one over their high-flying neighbours and bitter rivals.
Serie A leaders Juventus, already enjoying an eightpoint lead in Italy after 13 wins in 14 games, faced bitter rivals Inter Milan on Friday night.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli will be expected to strengthen their hold on second place – they host second-frombottom Frosinone before their crunch Champions League trip to Liverpool next week.
AC Milan bid to consolidate fourth place against Torino, as Lazio, a point behind in fifth, host mid-table Sampdoria after being held by bottom club Chievo last weekend.
Liverpool have confirmed that defender Joe Gomez suffered a lower leg fracture during Wednesday’s Premier League victory over Burnley and faces up to six weeks on the sidelines. GOMEZ
The England defender, 21, was carried off midway through the first half at Turf Moor following a challenge with Ben Mee, with Liverpool going on to claim a 3-1 win.
“Liverpool can confirm Joe Gomez sustained a fracture to the lower left leg during the 3-1 win at Burnley on Wednesday night,” the club said.
“Initial indications suggest the 21year-old is facing a spell of up to six weeks out of action, though this is dependent on how his treatment and rehabilitation programmes progress.”
A six-week absence would keep Gomez out until mid-January.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time, with Liverpool facing nine games between now and then in three different competitions.