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Ronaldo back for Real, Deulofeu in for Dembele

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Barcelona begin a four-month stretch without injured club record signing Ousmane Dembele, but will be expected to sweep aside Eibar to continue their 100 percent start to La Liga on Tuesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo returns from a five-match ban for Real Madrid 24 hours later at home to Real Betis, whilst Atletico Madrid face a daunting trip to Athletic Bilbao.

Dembele's prolonged absence hands Gerard Deulofeu a chance he could only have dreamed about when re-signing for his boyhood club in June.

At the time Deulofeu was seen as able deputy to back up a front three of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

But the 23-year-old has already enjoyed over three times as many minutes in his second spell at Barca than his first due to Neymar's departure and Dembele's misfortune.

Deulofeu now has the chance he craved of a run in the Barca side until the new year and could even cement his place in the Spain squad for next year's World Cup if he turns his potential into consistent performances.

The World Player of the Year's "persecution", as he described his ban, is over as he will be free to make his first league appearance of the season against Betis on Wednesday.

His absence was most keenly felt in profligate Madrid displays in dropping points at home to Valencia and Levante.

Ronaldo showed Real what they were missing with a double against APOEL Nicosia last midweek.

But his enforced absence could yet benefit Madrid as it did last season when a delayed start to the campaign through injury meant a fresher Ronaldo hit top form in the final months of the season, scoring 10 goals in the Champions League from the quarter-finals on.

AFP

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