My Soccer World

Football: Bernabeu Hoping For Real Effort

Posted on: November 8, 2008

MADRID: After dropping two points at Almeria and losing to Juventus in the Champions League midweek, champions Real Madrid need to get back to winning ways against Malaga at home today.

The Bernabeu fans applauded Alessandro Del Piero (pic) after his brace helped Juve to a 2-0 win Wednesday — a result which leaves Real struggling to reach the last 16 — but they hope to be applauding their own players this weekend.

Real are two points behind leaders Barcelona and experienced midfielder Guti called on his teammates to up the ante.

“We have to improve a lot of things defensively and offensively,” Guti said. “We are at 50 percent at the moment and we need a morale boost.

“This squad has won two successive league titles and with the team we have we should aspire to win the championship again. We have to come out of this difficult situation together.”
Dutch winger Arjen Robben will be out for five to six weeks after injuring his right foot in the warm-up to the Juventus game, giving manager Bernd Schuster another headache. Barcelona, who qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League with a 1-1 draw against FC Basel on Tuesday, have won seven straight league games to lead the standings.

But manager Pep Guardiola continues to apply the “take each game as it comes” mentality going into today’s home match with Valladolid.

“We are leaders with a point advantage over Villarreal and two over Real so I am happy,” explained Guardiola.

An injury to key midfielder Andres Iniesta was the black spot from their Champions League outing against Basel with the Spanish international expected to be out for up to six weeks with a leg injury.

Villarreal, a point behind Barca, are the only team in the league yet to taste defeat and host Almeria tomorrow hoping to capitalise should Barca or Real slip-up.

After a spell at the summit Valencia fell to fourth with their first defeat of the season last time out — a 4-2 loss against Racing Santander — but are just two points behind Barca.

Sevilla are three points behind Valencia in fifth with their next match at home to struggling Recreativo Huelva.

Atletico Madrid, four points adrift of Sevilla, have a great chance to close the gap tomorrow when they travel to an Osasuna side that still haven’t won this season.

Atletico have spent the whole week complaining about Steven Gerrard’s 94th minute penalty that helped Liverpool rescue a 1-1 Champions League draw at Anfieldon Tuesday.

TODAY — Real Madrid v Malaga, Barcelona v Valladolid; TOMORROW — Deportivo La Coruna v Espanyol, Racing Santander v Sporting Gijon, Real Mallorca v Athletic, Osasuna v Atletico Madrid, Numancia v Real Betis, Villarreal v Almeria, Sevilla v Recreativo Huelva, Getafe v Valencia.

New Straits Times

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