Brief news from La Liga ahead of this weekend's matches (all times GMT):
* Leaders Barcelona have Cesc Fabregas back in the squad for Saturday's match at home to Sevilla (2000) after the Spain midfielder recovered from a hamstring injury sustained in training on Oct. 1, Barca said on their website on Friday (www.fcbarcelona.cat).
The return of the former Arsenal captain means coach Pep Guardiola now has only three injury absentees: Spain centre back Gerard Pique, Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, who should both return soon, and Netherlands midfielder Ibrahim Afellay, who is likely to miss most of the season after knee surgery.
* Barca, who are level on 17 points with surprise package Levante at the top, have not conceded a goal for five games in all competitions. Keeper Victor Valdes is an hour away from breaking his record of 577 minutes unbeaten.
"The team is defending very well," he told the club's TV channel on Thursday. "We are winning the ball back very quickly and are working extremely hard on keeping up the pressure."
* Real Madrid are a point behind Barca and Levante in third and face a potentially tricky trip on Saturday (1800) to big-spending Malaga, the Qatar-owned club bidding for a European qualification berth this season.
Real's Argentina winger Angel Di Maria believes the team is playing significantly better than last season as they have had more time to gel under coach Jose Mourinho, now in his second season.
"Last year we were already very good, but this season we are developing as a group even more because we have already been together for a year," Di Maria told the club's TV channel on Friday.
"The players who have arrived have adapted very well and very quickly," he added.
* Malaga, coached by Mourinho's predecessor at Real, Manuel Pellegrini, slipped up in their last outing, losing 3-0 at Levante after having goalkeeper Willy Caballero sent off in the 27th minute.
The club's Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla, who joined from Villarreal in the close season, said Malaga will have to play "a perfect game" if they are to defeat Real.
"Our tactics will not change, whoever our opponent is," he said in an interview with As sports daily published Friday. "But it being Real Madrid, it's clear that you cannot make a single mistake because you'll pay dearly."
* Levante, the tiny Valencia-based club who stunned visiting Real Madrid 1-0 last month, are undefeated in seven games this season and can make it six straight wins at Villarreal on Sunday (2000).
* Atletico Madrid need to pick themselves up for Real Malllorca's visit on Sunday (1600) after they crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Udinese in Thursday's Europa League match, when they conceded two late goals.
"The team is not in crisis but it's a body blow," coach Gregorio Manzano, who took over at the end of last season, said at a news conference after the match in Italy.
* Valencia also suffered a setback in Europe as they prepared to host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday (1800), surrendering the lead and losing 2-1 at Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen.
Unai Emery's side made a strong start to the season, but have faltered in recent games, prompting criticism of the coach from fan groups, who have accused him of lacking courage.