Rar­ing to go

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

MOST EX­PERTS pre­dicted giants Real Madrid and Barcelona would cruise through their early games in the Span­ish Liga this sea­son.

In­stead, Real have al­ready dropped two points – thanks to a sur­prise 1-1 draw at home to Vil­lar­real yes­ter­day – while de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Barca have let slip five points in home matches against Alaves and Atletico Madrid.

“This is turn­ing out to be a more in­ter­est­ing sea­son than most peo­ple ex­pected. Wed­nes­day showed that the big two are strug­gling to build up much of a rhythm, what with dif­fi­cult op­po­nents and in­juries, com­mented Ra­dio Marca af­ter yes­ter­day’s re­sults.”

Af­ter five games, Real are top with 13 points. Sevilla are sec­ond with 11, Barca third with 10, while in joint fourth place, all on nine points, are Atletico, Las Pal­mas and Vil­lar­real.

Real will be try­ing to re­turn to win­ning ways to­mor­row against a Las Pal­mas side which have im­pressed with their neat foot­ball – but crashed 4-1 at Real So­ciedad yesters­day.

Pal­mas will be with­out Kev­inPrince Boateng, who was sent off early in that loss.

“Tonight was ter­ri­ble for us,” Las Pal­mas coach Quique Se­tien said.

“But Satur­day could be very dif­fer­ent, against a dif­fer­ent kind of op­po­si­tion. We are re­ally look­ing for­ward to the match.”

Real will be with­out in­jury vic­tims Key­lor Navas, Marcelo and Casemiro.

Barca will travel to Gi­jon with­out idol Lionel Messi, who will be out for around three weeks with a nig­gling groin strain.

“Last year he had a longer in­jury and we over­came it,” coach Luis En­rique said. “With Leo we’re stronger, but we’ll con­tinue to be strong.”

Mid­field an­chor­man Ser­gio Bus­quets was Barca’s other in­jury vic­tim yes­ter­day against Atletico.

To­mor­row will also see sec­ond-placed Sevilla visit Ath­letic Bil­bao, who are never easy op­po­nents in San Mames.

The sixth round of games starts to­day with an in­ter­est­ing clash be­tween south­ern ri­vals Real Betis and Malaga, whilst the Basque derby be­tween Eibar and Real So­ciedad has been sched­uled for to­mor­row.

Mean­while, the big game on Sun­day will be un­beaten Atletico Madrid against midtable De­portivo La Coruna.

Sun­day will also see yet an­other new coach on the bench of trou­bled bot­tom team Va­len­cia, away to Le­ganes.

Va­len­cia sacked Pako Ayesteran on Tues­day. Eter­nal care­taker Voro is sched­uled to be on the burn­ing bench for this morn­ing’s clash with Alaves, then prob­a­bly a new man on Sun­day at Le­ganes.

Who­ever is cho­sen will be Va­len­cia’s eighth coach in just five years. Also Sun­day, Vil­lar­real will face Osasuna and Es­panyol will host Celta Vigo, while the clash be­tween Alaves and Granada has been sched­uled for Mon­day. – dpa

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.