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Real Madrid returns to action against Malaga
Madrid, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - La Liga action resumes this weekend following the FIFA international break, and Real Madrid is nearing full strength just in time for Saturday's potentially tricky test against Malaga at the Bernabeu.
Gareth Bale, who made the high-profile switch to the Galacticos from Tottenham this summer, largely has been an afterthought due to a lingering back injury.
But the Welshman has made his way back to the training pitch for the first time in 18 days on Wednesday and appears to be available for selection in Madrid's coming fixtures.
Real Madrid should be buoyed by the returns of a few key players, but Raphael Varane is looking to be the club's most serious injury concern following the international break.
"Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Modric trained with the group in a session during which Carlo Ancelotti also called upon Castilla players (Jorge) Casado, (Diego) Llorente and Jose Rodriguez," said Real Madrid in a club statement. "Varane worked inside while Xabi Alonso, who took to the pitch alone, continued his process of recovery."
Still, Malaga should provide a stern test for Madrid. Bernd Schuster's side began the season with consecutive defeats before going on a five-game unbeaten run, but a 1-0 home loss to Osasuna last time out brought Los Boquerones back down to reality.
Madrid, meanwhile, has already fallen off the pace of first-place Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. The two sides enter the weekend slate five points clear of Madrid and will look to extend the gap with maximum points at Osasuna and Espanyol, respectively, on Saturday.
In Saturday's final La Liga Fixture, Valencia will look to extend its unbeaten run to five games when it hosts Real Sociedad at the Mestalla.
Getafe will be looking to continue its superb run of form on Sunday when it heads to Los Carmenes to face Granada. Getafe has won three in a row and is looking to make it four against a Granada side that comes in just two points clear of the relegation zone.
Almeria enters the weekend at the bottom of the table with just three points. The club will hope to reverse its abysmal start to the season by going for its first win against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
Elche and Real Betis come into Sunday's slate separated by just one point. The two sides will meet at the Estadio Manuel Ruiz de Lopera as Elche attempts to maintain its edge.
Also on Sunday, Valladolid will look to put an end to its five-game winless streak when it welcomes Sevilla to the Jose Zorrilla.
And on Monday, Villarreal will test its strong start to the season by taking on Athletic Bilbao at San Mames while Celta Vigo will attempt to snap a three- game slide against Levante at the Estadio Balaidos.
10/18 12:42:27 ET
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