Real must recover, Barça on the road
Having enjoyed a flying start to the season, Real Madrid suddenly find themselves with plenty of headaches going into this weekend`s testing home encounter with Valencia at the Bernabeu.
Less than a week ago Real held a one-point lead at the top of the Primera Division standings, were unbeaten in any competition under
That is not the sum of Real's problems, though, as they are definitely without suspended defenders
Ronaldo, the leading marksman in the division with 14 goals, is battling an ankle injury while Higuain, who missed the Camp Nou thrashing, is struggling with a back problem which Real are seeking a second opinion over. If the specialist agrees with the club's assessment that surgery is required, then the
Full-back Ramos, whose dismissal at the Camp Nou was his second red card in a week having been sent off against Ajax in the UEFA Champions League as well, has urged his side to look forward and not dwell on the Barça loss.
"We have to recover from the defeat and not lament it anymore because that would be a mistake," he said. "On Saturday we have an important game against a team that is having a very good season. Football always gives you the chance for revenge, but now we have to think about Valencia and continue to do things well. We are missing players for the match, but this is a great squad. Every player is important and contributes something to the team."
The good news for Real is the fact they are at home, where they have won their last 12 matches in all competitions. Also, coach Mourinho has not lost a home league match in over eight years for his various clubs.
New pacesetters Barça, who moved two points clear of Real after recording their seventh successive league win, are away to Osasuna this weekend. Pep Guardiola's reigning champions have now scored 24 goals in their last five league games, and playmaker Xavi admits the win over their rivals was great for confidence.
"It was a big blow for Madrid, now we have to see if they can recover. For us, it had the opposite effect. It was a huge boost for morale," he said.
Aside from the fixtures involving the top two, Saturday's other match sees Atletico Madrid travel to promoted Levante looking to bounce back from their potentially costly UEFA Europa League defeat at home to Aris Thessaloniki last night.
The pick of Sunday's matches pits third-placed Villarreal against stuttering Sevilla, while Primera Division surprise packages Espanyol will look to continue one of only two remaining 100 per cent home records - the other being Real Madrid - when they take on 17th-placed Sporting Gijon. Espanyol, who are fourth, have won all six league matches at their Cornella-El Prat stadium so far this season.
Elsewhere, two recently-installed coaches meet at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos when Jose Luis Oltra's Almeria host Javier Aguirre's Real Zaragoza. Bottom-placed Zaragoza have picked up one point in Aguirre's first two games while second-bottom Almeria were beaten 2-1 at Valencia in Oltra's debut last weekend.
Third-bottom Malaga, who replaced