Schuster demands Real improvement
Champions Real Madrid travel to Racing Santander on Sunday with coach Bernd Schuster demanding a drastic improvement on the Spanish giants' lacklustre start to the season.
Schuster was furious with his players for taking their foot off the gas in Wednesday's 2-0 UEFA Champions League win over minnows BATE Borisov, and also expressed his annoyance at Real leaking five goals in their opening two league matches.
"We are not happy about the number of goals we are conceding," admitted German defender Christoph Metzelder. "We have problems with dead-ball situations and we have to improve on that, but it is only the second weekend into the season. We have a lot of players who were at the European championships and had a short pre-season. I am sure we will improve."
Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola finally got his first competitive win since taking charge with a 3-1 Champions League triumph over Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday, and now wants to break his duck in the league. "I am very happy to have won. ," said Guardiola.
Barca have endured their worst start for 35 years with one point from six, and lie 15th in the table going into Sunday's match at bottom side Sporting Gijon. Belarus winger Alexander Hleb is sidelined after sustaining an ankle injury against Racing last weekend, but otherwise Guardiola is spoilt for choice.
Meanwhile, Sunday will also see a fiercely-contested Seville derby with Real Betis entertaining city rivals Sevilla at the Manuel Ruiz de Lopera. In recent years Betis have been in the shadow of neighbours Sevilla, who have won two UEFA Cups and challenged for the league title in the last three years, and Betis will be out for revenge after Sevilla did the league double over them in the last campaign.
Sevilla are unbeaten with four points from six, but have looked uneasy in defence, conceding three goals in their narrow 4-3 win over Sporting Gijon. Coach Manolo Jimenez claims it is due to new players needing time to settle.
"I have a lot of faith in our defenders," said Jimenez. "They have come from a different league, and sometimes it takes time to adapt to the style of the Spanish strikers."
Brimming with confidence
Atletico Madrid are brimming with confidence going into Saturday's home match with Recreativo Huelva, after destroying PSV Eindhoven 3-0 in their Champions League group match. It was Atletico's first match in Europe's flagship competition for 11 years, and the capital side excelled, with Argentine Kun Aguero bagging a brace.
"I hope we can carry on like this," said Aguero. "We want to go as far as we can in all competitions, but the season has just started and we have to continue in this vein."
Atletico, who lost 2-1 at Valladolid last weekend, must do without Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan who pulled up injured in Eindhoven and is out for three weeks.
Spain's other Champions League representatives Villarreal earned a creditable 0-0 draw at holders Manchester United on Wednesday, but have a shortage of strikers for Sunday's trip to Numancia.
Former Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi and Turkish forward Nihat, the club's top-scorer with 18 goals last season, both played no part against United due to injury. Numancia have already ruffled some feathers on their return to the top flight, defeating Barcelona 1-0 and scoring three times against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Somewhat surprisingly, Espanyol are the only team with a 100 percent record after two matches and defend their perfect start on Saturday with a home match against Getafe.
"We deserve some credit because out of the 20 teams in the league we are the only one that has managed to win both matches," said striker Luis Garcia, who has scored in each of his team's first two matches. Espanyol are also the only team yet to concede a goal after successive 1-0 wins in their first two fixtures.