Real not getting carried away
WHILE La Liga gears up for the first Clasico of the season next weekend, Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso refuses to be sidetracked and says a win against Sporting Gijon will be just as valuable.
Madrid are in ominous form at the moment and have a three-point lead plus a game in hand over reigning champions Barcelona. They are now looking for their 14th successive victory while Barça, who face Levante at Camp Nou, have been stuttering away from home.
Real have been in blistering form in attack, with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the way with 16 goals in the league, while Gonzalo Higuain is not far behind on 12 and Karim Benzema has seven.
It will not be an easy game, however, against Sporting, who beat them at the Bernabeu last season and have been playing well, although they were thumped 4-0 by Levante last weekend.
“This season we have taken a step forward, we are playing fantastically and we don’t want it to stop,” said Alonso. “But I have a lot of respect for Sporting. The three points in Gijon are as important as those against Barcelona.
Barça have drawn and lost their last two away matches but their home stadium remains a fortress where they have scored 34 goals and are yet to concede. In mid-week they brushed aside Rayo Vallecano 4-0.
There was controversy, though, with Gerard Pique apparently deliberately earning a yellow card for time wasting that means he will be banned this weekend but will be clear to play against Madrid.
The football league are now considering whether to take action against him.
Valencia, in third, are on a good run, having won six of their last seven games, and take on Espanyol. – SapaAFP
FOCUS: Xabi Alonso