Jose Mourinho will be determined to keep his faltering Real Madrid team on top of the Spanish Liga, by winning away to lowly Levante today.
The nine-time European champions have picked up 10 points from their first four games, the same as Valencia, who have an inferior goal difference. Sevilla missed a good opportunity to join them (Real and Valencia) at the top after only managing a draw at home to Racing Santander on Thursday.
Mourinho’s team was booed by some sections of their fans at the Santiago Bernabeu during Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat of Espanyol. Although most Madrid fans seem, at least at the moment, pleased with the results and patient about the team eventually playing well, believe me it won’t be long before white flags come up at the Bernabeu.
Luckily enough, as expected though, the self-styled ‘Special One’ has done extremely well to capture the support of the Madrid media, which means he can have the luxury of getting the benefit of the doubts, unlike in Italy where the outspoken Portuguese was a hated man even before he signed for Inter Milan.
Despite winning an unprecedented treble (Italian Cup, League and Champions League), Mourinho was never appreciated in Italy, which is one of the reasons, he jumped ship just after two seasons in charge to join Real Madrid.
For today’s game, Mourinho will be without defender Pepe, who was sent off against Espanyol but his team should be too strong for a Levante side that has won one and lost three of their first four league matches, leaving them third from bottom.
Ronaldo is finding his feet under his compatriot, while Argentinean striker Higuian is looking as though he has started scoring for fun Despite Mourinho’s version of Real Madrid (like it was with Chelsea and Inter) still finding their feet, the side are unbeaten since the Portuguese’ arrival in the summer, and just conceded one goal thus far.
The lack of thrills and spills on the pitch will definitely not go well with a section of Madridistas but at least Mr. Special One is a man in total control of his star-studded side.
The problem that Mourinho is going to have to cope with all season though, is not the players but impatient Madridista wanting to be wowed, no matter how much the team keeps winning the ‘Mourinho way’.
Barcelona are away to Athletic Bilbao, never an easy game. The Catalan side have won only one of their last four league matches in old San Mames.
Pep Guardiola, though, will again be without Messi, out for another week with a sprained right ankle. Without the world player of the year, Barcelona doesn’t look the same as it does when he’s on the team. They miss his speed and inspiration. On Wednesday, the champions struggled to beat Sporting Gijon 1-0 at Camp Nou.
As for Valencia, despite losing some of their best talent including David Silva, David Villa, Carlos Marchena and Nikola Zigic in the summer, they (Valencia) have shrugged off their troubles and could be quite close to the big two this season which was the case last season when they finished a whopping 25 points behind second placed Real Madrid.