Madrid (AFP) – Madrid minnows Leganes get their reward for an unlikely promotion to La Liga when the might of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar grace the 11,000-capacity Estadio Butarque on Saturday.
Leganes have made a fine start to their first season in the Spanish top-flight, winning at Celta Vigo on the opening weekend and holding Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid to a 0-0 draw at the Butarque.
However, Leganes face an even tougher task in stopping a rampant “MSN” of Messi, Suarez and Neymar fresh from scoring six of Barca’s seven goals in a Champions League rout of Celtic in midweek on their first start of the season together.
Barca were in no mood for complacency on Tuesday after a shock 2-1 home defeat to another newly promoted side, Alaves, ended their perfect start to the La Liga season last weekend.
Leganes defender Pablo Insua says the Alaves result gives the hosts hope.
“We have to do everything right and have luck,” Insua told Marca.
“We saw how Alaves did it and it is clear it can be done, but the circumstances are not the same.”
Barca boss Luis Enrique started Messi and Suarez on the bench for Alaves’s visit to the Camp Nou after their duties in South American World Cup qualifying.
Enrique won’t make the same mistake twice, but could rotate in defence and midfield ahead of Wednesday’s blockbuster La Liga clash with Atletico.
Messi scored a hat-trick whilst Neymar bagged four assists and goal against Celtic as the “MSN” took their combined early season tally to 13.
Neymar hopes to break the incredible 131-goal record they set last year.
“To play with Messi is very easy,” the Brazilian said on Thursday.
“We understand each other very well, as does Suarez. We always try to help each other to ensure everything works out well.”
– Record-chasing Real –
Barca’s defeat to Alaves means they are playing catch-up to Real Madrid after just three games.
Madrid have made a perfect start to the campaign and can set a club record of 16 La Liga wins with victory at Espanyol on Sunday.
The European champions needed a sensational late fightback to start their Champions League defence with a win on Wednesday as Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata scored in the final minutes to turn around a 1-0 deficit against Sporting Lisbon.
“My dream is to be a success here,” said Morata, who rejoined the club in June after a two-year spell at Juventus.
“A goal like that, at home, in the Champions League, was a dream since I was a kid.”
Morata is expected to replace Karim Benzema up front alongside Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, should the Welshman shake off a hip injury that forced him off early in midweek.
James Rodriguez is also in contention for his first start of the season after impressing as a substitute and setting up Morata’s winner.
Atletico will look to build on the momentum of their first two wins of the season away at Celta Vigo and PSV Eindhoven in the past week when they return to the Vicente Calderon to face high-flying Sporting Gijon on Saturday.
Sporting could go top with a surprise victory after taking seven points from their opening three games.
Sevilla also have the chance to move to the top of the table for at least 24 hours when they travel to Eibar.
Valencia will hope to snap their worst start to a season for 17 years by picking up their first point at Athletic Bilbao.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Real Betis v Granada (1945)
Leganes v Barcelona (1200), Atletico Madrid v Sporting Gijon (1515), Eibar v Sevilla (1730), Las Palmas v Malaga (1945)
Osasuna v Celta Vigo (1100), Athletic Bilbao v Valencia (1515) Villarreal v Real Sociedad (1730), Espanyol v Real Madrid (1945)
Alaves v Deportivo la Coruna (1945)
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