Ronaldo misses Real battle

MADRID - Real Madrid will be looking for their first win away to Deportivo Coruna since 1991 tomorrow - without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo.

MADRID - Real Madrid will be looking for their first win away to Deportivo Coruna since 1991 tomorrow - without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo.

The most expensive player in the world was handed a two-match ban on Tuesday for the direct red card he earned last Sunday, when he broke the nose of Malaga defender Patrick Mtiliga with his elbow.

Real have called the ban "completely unjust" and are going to appeal. Even so, it is unlikely that Ronaldo will be able to play tomorrow. They are hoping that Gonzalo Higuain will be fit in time to accompany Karim Benzema in attack.

Veteran playmaker Guti - in the Real squad since 1995 but still looking for a first win in Riazor - will again stand in for the injured Rafael van der Vaart.

"We know that it will be difficult up there," said Guti.

"It always is. But I think that we have the quality and character to win at last."

Deportivo, who are fifth on the table, will be without left-back Filipe Luis for the first time this season. The luckless Brazilian badly broke his right ankle and shin in last Saturday's 3-1 defeat of Athletic Bilbao and will be out for the rest of the season.

On Wednesday a reserve-packed Deportivo side crashed out of the King's Cup against Sevilla.

Barca are hoping to be eight points ahead of Real by the time the Riazor match kicks off. For once Josep Guardiola has a full squad to choose from, now that Sergio Busquets is fit again and Yaya Toure has returned from the Africa Cup of Nations. Also tomorrow, relegation-threatened Espanyol will be at home to Bilbao.

The big game on Sunday sees third-placed Valencia away to Sevilla, who finally have star strikers Frederic Kanoute and Luis Fabiano fit again. Sevilla are sixth but will move up to fourth if they manage to overcome Los Ches, who have the best away record in La Liga. - Sapa-DPA

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