Jose Mourinho can ease some of the pressure building up against him should Real Madrid clinch their place in the Kings Cup final by beating Sevilla on Wednesday in the second leg semi-final match.
Real lost 1-0 at Osasuna on Sunday to fall seven points behind Barcelona in the league and Mourinho hopes to forget that setback by defeating holders Sevilla as Madrid try to win the competition for the first time since 1993. Real hold a 1-0 lead from the first leg, courtesy of Karim Benzema's goal, and hope to make home advantage count as they bid to end a run of two years without a trophy.
Sevilla know they will have to score at the Santiago Bernabeu to progress and will take heart from their 3-3 draw with Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday when they came from 2-0 down to almost win the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo admitted Real were frustrated to lose 1-0 at Osasuna on Sunday but is confident of reaching the final and already seems to be thinking of a possible final match-up against arch rivals Barcelona, who hold a 5-0 first leg lead over Almeria in the other semi-final. "The two best teams in Spain should be in the final although it wouldn't be revenge (for the 5-0 league defeat at Camp Nou)," said Ronaldo.
"What had happened against Osasuna (being kicked and fouled) is not good for children or people who enjoy this game. I hate it. The other day at Sevilla they were about to break Iker's (Casillas) head." A water bottle thrown from the Seville crowd hit Real captain Casillas in the head in the first leg of the semi-final tie and Sevilla players can expect a hostile reception at the Bernabeu.
Mourinho gave Emmanuel Adebayor, on loan from Manchester City, his debut as a substitute at Osasuna and may be tempted to start the Togo striker after his side fired blanks in the 1-0 loss in Pamplona. Sevilla will be without first choice goalkeeper Andres Palop, who is suspended after being sent off in the Deportivo La Coruna draw, so reserve goalkeeper Javi Varas is set to start the biggest game of his career.
Champions look to final
Barcelona put one foot in the final with the drubbing of Almeria at Camp Nou in the first leg and could rest key players for Wednesday's second leg. Almeria, who have never reached the semi-final stage before, are going to need a remarkable comeback to reach the final but Barcelona star Pedro Rodriguez said his side would not be taking anything for granted.
"What happened at (Real) Betis is still fresh in our minds and we can't get carried away," said Pedro. Barcelona lost 3-1 to second division Betis in the second leg of the quarter-final after Pep Guardiola's side had won the first leg 5-0.
Barcelona, who made it a record-equalling 15 consecutive league wins with a 3-0 victory over Hercules on Saturday, won the cup in 2009 as part of their historic treble.