Kaka: Real must focus on Valencia
Real Madrid midfielder Kaka has stressed the need for the team to be completely focused on Sunday's La Liga clash with Valencia following their UEFA Champions League success this week.
Real Madrid set up a meeting with Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the European competition by beating APOEL Nicosia 5-2 in the second leg of their last-eight tie yesterday, completing an 8-2 aggregate triumph. A first Champions League final in ten years, and one against Spanish rivals Barcelona, who face Chelsea in the last four, could be beckoning, but Jose Mourinho's men also have a domestic title challenge to worry about.
Currently top of the table, six points ahead of Barcelona with eight games to play, Madrid could find their lead cut to three points by the time they host third-placed Valencia on Sunday night, with the Catalan side playing strugglers Real Zaragoza a day earlier.
The gap between the top two has narrowed of late, but Kaka is determined to keep Barça at arms length and told Real's website: "We must only think about our game against Valencia now. That's our most important match right now because we have a six-point lead over Barcelona in the league and we want to keep it that way."
Kaka may want thoughts of the UEFA Champions League to be put to one side for now, but he was delighted to score a spectacular goal against APOEL. The 29-year-old rates it as one of his finest strikes and feels he is still improving as a player. "It was one of my most beautiful goals," Kaka said.
"I am growing increasingly confident in my game and touch on the ball. The most important thing to me is that I'm not sustaining injuries and that I manage to pull off good efforts to help the team; all that makes me very happy. I am gradually growing as a player and I'm improving at the most crucial moment of the season."
Kaka and Madrid will be hoping that Real Zaragoza can keep up their recent run of form when they welcome Barcelona to La Romareda. The Aragonese side, currently 18th, have won their last three games and are now four points from safety.
Rock-bottom Sporting Gijon, who Zaragoza defeated 2-1 last weekend, are three points worse off and face a trip to Getafe on Saturday, while 19th-placed Racing Santander, level on points with Sporting, are at high-flying Malaga on Monday night.
Saturday's other action sees Villarreal, hovering just outside the relegation zone, travel to Real Betis, Osasuna make the trip to Rayo Vallecano and Espanyol play Real Sociedad at home. On Sunday, Levante face Atletico Madrid, Real Mallorca take on Granada and Athletic Bilbao are up against Sevilla.