Rejuvenated Kaka is Real lucky charm
Cristiano Ronaldo's ten league goals may be the focus of Real Madrid's La Liga title challenge this season, but it's Brazilian superstar Kaka who is the team's lucky charm.
A rejuvenated Kaka has been a key player for Madrid in recent weeks, scoring in Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Villarreal as Jose Mourinho's team stretched their winning run to five league games. Although Madrid trail surprise leaders Levante by one point, they are a point ahead of eternal rivals Barcelona and playing with plenty of confidence.
With four goals this season, Kaka now has 20 in total in 65 games for Madrid. But what is remarkable is that in all 17 matches in which he has scored Madrid have been victorious.
"Things are turning out well for me. I hadn't played 90 minutes for a long time. I feel well both physically and personally. I'm gradually growing more confident," said Kaka, who has also been recalled to the Brazil squad.
"It was a special match for me (against Villarreal) and also for Real Madrid. We continue to take points in a championship that will prove to be very difficult. We constantly grow stronger."
The Real Madrid side that travels to Real Sociedad on Saturday is packed full of players currently at the top of their game. Ronaldo hit a hat-trick last weekend at Malaga while forwards Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain are constantly hitting the target in their own private competition for a place in Mourinho's starting line up. The supply line provided by Argentine midfielder Angel Di Maria is another reason why Madrid have been so clinical of late.
Sociedad have failed to win in five league games but will be expected to raise their game for what is always a highly-charged fixture in San Sebastian.
Champs eye return to form
Meanwhile, Barcelona entertain Mallorca on Saturday looking to improve on recent disappointing performances by their own high standards. After missing a late penalty against Sevilla last weekend, and failing to score in midweek at Granada, Lionel Messi has been singled out for criticism by some sections of the Spanish press.
But Cesc Fabregas backed his team-mate. "Leo is as happy and motivated as ever. He is a born winner and a fighter. To question Messi is unfair," said Fabregas. "What he has done will never be seen again. He plays to win and score goals and I'm positive he will win the Ballon d'Or again this year."
After seven straight wins, unfashionable Levante lead La Liga ahead of Spain's two giants. With 23 points from nine games, and only five goals conceded, the start made by the club with the lowest budget in the league has been the best by any team this century and the fourth best in the league's history.
Levante have a tricky away match at Osasuna on Sunday and striker Ruben Suarez insists that staying in the top flight is the club's aim. "Being top of the league is no fluke, it comes from hard work," he said. "But the objective has to be survival and the quicker the better. We will fight to finish as high as possible, but to aspire to anything else is deceiving ourselves."