Diop: Barça won't win every game
Racing Santander midfielder Pape Diop is optimistic his side can defy expectations and pick up something from this weekend's daunting trip to Barcelona.
Barça head into the match sitting top of the La Liga standings and having won their three home fixtures at the Nou Camp this season by a combined 18-0 scoreline, thrashing Osasuna 8-0 and Villarreal and Atletico Madrid 5-0 each.
Racing coach Hector Cuper admitted yesterday that this Barcelona side was as close to footballing perfection as he had ever seen in his career and, with the Cantabrian club stuck in the bottom three with four points from six games, a home victory appears inevitable.
However, Diop does not believe the result is a foregone conclusion. "I know that many think we aren't capable of doing something at the Nou Camp, but I think we can pick up points," Diop said. "Barcelona are not going to win every game.
"We have the team to withstand them and the important thing is not to concede any goals in the opening minutes, because this forces you to be more attacking."
Barça, the reigning European and Spanish champions, lead the table on goal difference ahead of surprise package Levante.
Valencia face tough Malaga task
Along with Barcelona and Sevilla, Levante are one of only three teams yet to lose in La Liga, but the Valencia-based club's unbeaten record could come under threat as they play host to big-spending Malaga, who have picked up 13 points from a possible 15 since an opening-day loss to Sevilla.
Levante goalkeeper Gustavo Munua, a former Malaga player, said: "We are playing in front of our own fans and we want to continue being strong and solid at home. We know we're going well and that the matches at our stadium are going to be key to our objective of survival.
"Malaga have an impressive project and it's a nice challenge for us to play this game. We will try to win because we have to take it game by game, as we still haven't achieved anything."
Betis motivated to beat Real
In third spot are Real Madrid, who face stumbling Real Betis at the Bernabeu on Saturday. Betis had enjoyed a flying start to the campaign with four successive wins, but have since lost their last two and now take on a Real side who have scored ten goals in their two home games.
Far from being intimidated by the trip to the Bernabeu though, Betis midfielder Benat Etxebarria said: "This game gives you extra motivation. Even though for me every game is big because I'm new to all this, this game is more special."
Sevilla will be without Alvaro Negredo for the visit of bottom club Sporting Gijon as the striker looks to recover from a hamstring injury that ruled him out of Spain's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying doubleheader over the last week.
Real Mallorca begin life under new coach Joaquin Caparros with a tough home game against fifth-placed Valencia. Caparros replaced Michael Laudrup after the Dane resigned just before the international break.
In other matches this weekend, Rayo Vallecano host Espanyol, Real Sociedad go to Real Zaragoza, second-bottom Granada take on Atletico Madrid and 17th-placed Getafe host a struggling Villarreal side who have just one win from six games so far.
Getafe defender Albert Lopo said: "Villarreal and Getafe are two teams who, with their squads, don't deserve to be where they are (in the table). We need to work hard, Villarreal are a very good team who have great players."