Ronaldo-less Madrid takes on Sociedad

Madrid, Spain ( - Real Madrid is will be shorthanded when the club welcomes Real Sociedad to the Bernabeu on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo will begin his two-match ban for committing acts of violent conduct in Real Madrid's 2-1 defeat of Cordoba last time out.

The reigning Ballon d'Or winner has been in fine form in recent weeks, but Real Madrid's star-studded squad makes the team an instant favorite regardless of the opposition.

Gareth Bale, who nabbed the winning goal in Madrid's win over Cordoba, will be asked to shoulder the bulk of the offensive responsibilities. Karim Benzema, meanwhile, will be aiming to find the back of the net for just the second time in the club's last six outings across all competitions.

Real Sociedad will be tasked with slowing down La Liga's top side, but the club also needs to focus on its own form.

La Real has been quite inconsistent in recent few months, producing a 4-5-5 record over its last 14 league contests. One victory from that run did come against Barcelona, though, so David Moyes will hope to lead his team to another major scalp on Saturday.

Barcelona has gone on a three-game winning run since falling to Sociedad at the Anoeta, as well as dispatching of Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey. The Catalans will return to La Liga action on Sunday with a home clash against a Villarreal side that enters the weekend on a 10-game unbeaten streak.

Third-place Atletico Madrid will hope to bounce back from its cup exit on Saturday when the club heads to Eibar.

Also on Saturday, Granada and Elche will meet in a relegation "six-pointer" and Celta Vigo will hope to snap a run of one point from nine matches when the club welcomes Cordoba to the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos.

Sevilla, reeling from a disappointing loss to Valencia last time out, will return to action on Sunday with a potentially tricky fixture against Espanyol.

Athletic Bilbao snapped a run of four straight defeats by claiming a draw against Malaga last weekend. Now, the club will turn its attention to its meeting with Levante on Sunday.

Rounding out Sunday's slate, Almeria and Getafe will square off at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos.

Friday's lone match saw Rayo Vallecano and Deportivo meet at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas for another installment of their heated rivalry. The visitors emerged victorious as a brace from Celso Borges helped Deportivo continue its ascent up the table.