September 09, 2011

MADRID (Reuters) -- Brief news from La Liga ahead of this weekend's matches (all times GMT):

* Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has been given the all-clear by medical staff and included in the squad for Saturday's game at Real Sociedad (1600), the Spanish and European champions said on Friday.

The Spain international has not played since undergoing knee surgery in June and his return is a welcome development for coach Pep Guardiola, who is still missing Puyol's partner in central defence Gerard Pique.

"Puyol's return is an extremely important piece of news for us," Guardiola told a news conference. "We are very pleased."

* Fullbacks Adriano and Maxwell and midfielder Ibrahim Afellay were also given the all-clear after injury and are available for the game in San Sebastian, Barca said in a statement on their website (

* Sociedad beat Barca 2-1 at their Anoeta stadium last season and their Norway defender Vadim Demidov said the Basque club's strong form at home could surprise the Catalans.

"I think this year will be tougher because they are an incredible team but winning one match against them is not impossible because we are strong at the Anoeta," he told a news conference.

* Real Madrid are a better team than last season and are capable of getting the better of Barcelona, Spanish champions for the past three years, according to Real's Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

"To beat them we have to play at 100 percent, but I also think that this season we are more competitive, more mature and have more experience," Ronaldo said in an interview published in Friday's Marca sports daily.

"That's why I think this will be Real Madrid's year," La Liga's top scorer last season with 40 goals added.

* Real host city rivals Getafe on Saturday (1800) following a 6-0 demolition of Real Zaragoza in the first round of matches.

Getafe coach Luis Garcia, who joined from Levante at the end of last season, said on Thursday he was concerned about a number of injuries in defence and on the wings but insisted his side were capable of causing an upset.

"They have an excellent counterattack and also exploit the spaces very well," Garcia told a news conference. "But Barca and Madrid won't take all the points and there is always a chance."

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