Granero: Real must turn the page
Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero has urged his side to "turn the page" as the struggling Spanish giants look to put a miserable few weeks behind them with victory over local rivals Getafe this weekend.
Real enjoyed a flying start to the season with seven successive victories in La Liga and Europe, but they have gone badly off course since then, losing three of their five games and winning just once. One of those defeats, Tuesday's 4-0 Copa del Rey mauling at third tier Alcorcon, has been described as one of the most humiliating results in the club's illustrious history, and has left new coach Manuel Pellegrini under mounting pressure.
Real president Florentino Perez yesterday insisted Pellegrini, who only took charge in the summer, needs to be given time, but the Spanish media have suggested the former Villarreal boss may be sacked if his side do not beat Getafe this weekend and then AC Milan in the Champions League next week. On top of all that, Real have been badly hit by injuries and will continue to be without world record signing Cristiano Ronaldo for at least the next two games.
It has been a tough time for Pellegrini and his players, but Granero is determined to look ahead rather than back. "We've gone through some bad moments, but we must move forward. We want to give some joy to our fans, who deserve it," said Granero, who re-joined Madrid this summer after two years at Getafe and helped his former club record a shock 3-1 win at the Bernabeu in last season's corresponding fixture. "We have to turn the page and think of Getafe. We are Real Madrid and we have the club's prestige to defend. We are going to give it everything against Getafe."
Madrid are not the only Primera Division club with concerns though, and Atletico Madrid would probably jump at the chance to swap places with their out-of-sorts neighbours given the opportunity. Although they beat Marbella 2-0 in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday in what was new coach Quique Sanchez Flores' first game in charge after replacing the sacked Abel Resino, Atletico find themselves in the bottom four of La Liga and in desperate trouble in the Champions League after winning just one of their opening 11 matches this season.
The good news for Atletico is that on Saturday they face an Athletic Bilbao side that are also in trouble, losing six of their last eight matches - including a 2-0 cup defeat to second division Rayo Vallecano. Reigning European and Spanish champions Barcelona have no such concerns, and they go to Osasuna with a three-point lead over second-placed Madrid with seven wins in eight games, and last night started the defence of their Copa del Rey title with a 2-0 first leg win over Cultural Leonesa.
Third-placed Sevilla are also in action on Saturday, and they will be looking for their first win in three league games when they take on second-bottom Xerez. The remaining six games take place on Sunday, when bottom club Malaga face Valencia, Espanyol host Real Valladolid, Racing Santander go to Real Mallorca, Real Zaragoza play Almeria and Deportivo La Coruna take on Sporting Gijon.
Villarreal are also in action, and they will hope to build on their opening league win of the season last weekend and move out of the relegation zone when they face Tenerife.