Cup winners Real seek league upturn

Saturday Celta Vigo     vs     Osasuna        16:00    Zaragoza     vs     Málaga        18:00    Deportivo     vs     Getafe        20:00    Mallorca     vs     Sociedad        22:00    Sunday
Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo takes the congratulations after scoring the second against Barcelona. Net photo.
Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo takes the congratulations after scoring the second against Barcelona. Net photo.

Saturday
Celta Vigo     vs     Osasuna        16:00    Zaragoza     vs     Málaga        18:00    Deportivo     vs     Getafe        20:00    Mallorca     vs     Sociedad        22:00    Sunday
Rayo     vs     Sevilla        12:00    Athletic     vs     Valladolid        16:00    Levante     vs     Espanyol        18:00    R. Madrid     vs    Granada        19:50    Barcelona     vs     Valencia        21:30
Monday   
Betis     vs     Atlético        21:30   

MADRID - Having claimed the season’s first piece of silverware with victory over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup, Real Madrid return to domestic action needing to close a five-point deficit on the Catalans in La Liga.

Meanwhile, The Spanish Liga will make history this weekend by having all 10 matches kick off at different times. Never before has this happened in a major football league. The reason for this innovative schedule is to increase subscriptions for pay-per-view television, both inside Spain and abroad.

La Liga has been edging towards this kind of schedule - with games finishing at lunch-time on Sunday and at midnight every evening - for several years, to the dismay of players, fans and journalists.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho uncharacteristically tore into his players after their 2-1 derby defeat by Getafe last weekend, describing their performance as “unacceptable”.

He got the reaction he was looking for in the Super Cup though, with a sparkling first-half display on Wednesday at the Bernabeu paving the way for a 2-1 victory over 10-man Barca that gave Madrid the trophy on away goals.

It was the only silverware that Mourinho lacked in Spain after winning the King’s Cup in his first year and then the league title last season, which ended Barca’s hegemony under Pep Guardiola, who had finished first in the previous three campaigns.

“The trophy will give us confidence. We should enjoy the moment but also realise that we must now move forward and know that we cannot afford to make any more mistakes,” said Cristiano Ronaldo, ahead of Sunday’s game at home to Granada.

The defeat was a blow for new Barca coach Tito Vilanova as he seeks to emulate the successes of his predecessor.

He has so far failed to tighten up the defence, which was the weak point of the team last season, and centre-backs Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano were chasing shadows for much of the first 45 minutes against Madrid. Still, Vilanova praised the way his side responded after the break. “I am proud that with 10 men in the second half, we managed to create five scoring chances,” he said.

Barca take on Valencia looking to maintain their 100 per cent record, which is also shared by Real Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano.

 

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