August 30, 2018 / 10:59 AM / 21 days ago

Confident newcomers Huesca relishing trip to Barca

MADRID (Reuters) - Huesca have enjoyed a fairytale start to their maiden campaign in Spain’s top flight, winning away to Eibar before a rousing comeback to draw at Athletic Bilbao but they face their sternest test so far with a visit to champions Barcelona on Sunday.

Huesca, the smallest club to play in La Liga, are full of confidence as they prepare to face Barca, who have not lost a league game at the Nou Camp since September 2016, in the third of three away games while their Alcoraz stadium is renovated.

“It’s a much tougher test, but we’ll go into it with the same enthusiasm and desire as we do to every game,” said Cucho Hernandez, their 19-year-old forward on loan from Watford.

“We showed it at Eibar, in Bilbao and those won’t be the exceptions. Granted, it’s Barcelona, one of the best teams in the world, but we will work for it and hopefully we can get a positive result.”

Leo Franco’s side will face a Barcelona side whose coach Ernesto Valverde is able to choose from a full-strength squad.

Barca’s France forward Ousmane Dembele is expected to keep his place alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in attack following his match-winning display against Valladolid last weekend as the Catalans look to maintain their winning start.

Before that, Real Madrid host local rivals Leganes, who last season knocked the European champions out of the Copa del Rey with victory at the Bernabeu.

There has been an emphasis on teamwork at Real under new coach Julen Lopetegui since Ronaldo’s departure.

“The team is what functions and it’s not important who scores the goals, rather that we score them. It’s a team game,” he said.

Keylor Navas will likely retain his place in goal ahead of new signing Thibaut Courtois, while fellow new signing, striker Mariano Diaz, is also likely to be named in the squad.

“I’ve got two great goalkeepers and it’s not a problem, rather a solution,” Lopetegui said.

“We’ll see moving forward but Keylor has done very well. There’s a lot of competition in each position and that only makes the team stronger.”

Earlier on Saturday, Atletico Madrid travel to Celta Vigo.

Sunday is derby day as Levante host Valencia before Real Betis host Sevilla in what is usually a feisty local clash.

(This version of the story corrects translated word illusion to desire in para 3.)

Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli; Editing by Ken Ferris

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