Madrid Real(ly) fired up by ri­vals stum­bling

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

MADRID: Real Madrid were spurred on by La Liga ti­tle ri­vals Barcelona and Sevilla drop­ping points on Sun­day, coach Zine­dine Zi­dane said as his side took a four-point lead at the top by beat­ing Real So­ciedad 3-0 in the late game.

“When you play last and see your ri­vals lose or draw you feel more mo­ti­vated and we went into the game feel­ing re­ally fired up,” Zi­dane,

pic­tured, told re­porters af­ter Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw at Real Betis and Sevilla lost 3-1 at Es­panyol.

Real ap­proached the week­end rav­aged by six in­juries and smart­ing af­ter their elim­i­na­tion in the King’s Cup quar­ter­fi­nals to Celta Vigo, as their Span­ish record-break­ing 40-game un­beaten run was fol­lowed by one win in their last four matches.

Barca had won their last five games in all com­pe­ti­tions but fell be­hind in the early kick off when Betis’s Alex Ale­gria struck in the 75th minute, and the cham­pi­ons needed a 90th minute lev­eller from Luis Suarez .

Sevilla, who ended Real’s un­beaten run two weeks ago had won five in a row in the league but got off to a night­mare start at Es­panyol when de­fender Ni­co­las Pareja was dis­missed in the sec­ond minute, fore­shad­ow­ing a costly de­feat.

Real knew a win against So­ciedad would give them ex­tra breath­ing space and af­ter a slow start Ma­teo Ko­vacic broke the dead­lock shortly be­fore the break, with goals from Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Al­varo Mo­rata wrap­ping up the points.

“We needed a game like this, now we’re play­ing very well and need to keep go­ing like this,” said Ko­vacic.

“We’re four points clear and we have to take ad­van­tage of that and stay ahead un­til the end so we can win the league.”

Real lead both Barca and Sevilla by four points and a game in hand, against Va­len­cia in Fe­bru­ary, of­fers them a chance to fur­ther boost their bid for a first league ti­tle since 2012.

Real’s Cup exit could also ben­e­fit their quest as they have seven days be­fore their next game, at Celta on Sun­day, while Barca face a semi­fi­nal first leg at Atletico Madrid to­mor­row be­fore meet­ing Ath­letic Bil­bao on Satur­day.

“I’m very happy be­cause we have a week to rest and work hard and think about the next game,” said Zi­dane. “We’ll have a cou­ple of days off to rest and that’ll be great for the play­ers and then we have the week to work hard.

“But this (Sun­day’s win) is only one game and we have to keep go­ing. We have to give ev­ery­thing and keep train­ing well. It won’t be easy and we’re go­ing to have dif­fi­cult games.” – Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.