Lit­tle and large: Huesca wel­come mighty Real Madrid to tiny ground Gomez faces six weeks out

The Nation - - SPORT -

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.

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