Barcelona vs. Elche: Preview and TV schedule

Denis Doyle

Barca returns from the winter break for a match against relegation battlers Elche, still missing Lionel Messi

The short winter break is over for the league leaders Barcelona as they begin a potentially busy two month stretch with a home match against Elche.

Barca entered the break as the leaders of La Liga, ahead of Atlético Madrid on goal differential alone. A five-match win streak to close 2013 helped but the work is just beginning. The Blaugrana face six games in January across three competitions though they're finally starting to get healthy.

While Lionel Messi and Dani Alves will miss out on Sunday's match, goalkeeper Victor Valdés is set to make his return to action after missing significant time with a calf injury. Sergio Busquets will also be out suspended.

A Barcelona victory would be their 24th in a row at the Camp Nou in league play. The odds seem pretty good considering Elche are just two points off the drop zone, managing only four wins this season.

Barcelona injuries and suspensions

Out: Lionel Messi (hamstring), Sergio Busquets (suspended).

Elche injuries and suspensions

Out: Damian Suarez (suspended), Coro (suspended), Álvaro Giménez (knee), Manu (ankle), David Lombán (unreported).

Messi is back training but will not be available until Barca's midweek cup match. Midfielder Sergio Busquets will miss the match serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Projected lineups

Barcelona: Victor Valdés, Adriano, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Alex Song, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Pedro Rodriguez, Cesc Fàbregas, Neymar.

Elche: Tońo, Carlos Suárez, Alberto Botia, Sergio Pelegrin, Edu Albácar, Rubén Pérez, Damián Sánchez, Carles Gil, Aarón Ñíguez, Fidel, Richmond Boakye.

Match Date/Time: 2:15 p.m. local, 9:15 a.m. ET

Venue: Pride Park Stadium, Derby, England

TV: BeIN Sport (U.S.), Sky Sports 3 (U.K.), Sportsnet (Canada)

Online: beIN Sport Play (U.S.), Sky Go (U.K.), beIN Sport Play (Canada)

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