Happy Birthday CRISTINO 25years ♣February 5, 2010
WE can win without cristiano ronaldo.
Real Madrid will look to build on last weekend’s morale-boosting victory over Deportivo La Coruna with an 11th successive home win on Saturday when they welcome Espanyol to the Bernabeu.
Madrid had not won at the Riazor in almost two decades and with an absentee list that included seven senior players and led to four youngsters from the reserves being named on the bench, they had it all to do not to fall eight points adrift of leaders Barcelona.
However, Madrid produced one of their best performances of the season to down Depor 3-1 and keep within touching distance of their arch rivals.
More good news for Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini comes with the potential return to action of midfielders Lassana Diarra and Rafael van der Vaart after injury for the visit of Espanyol, although Cristiano Ronaldo is again set to be missing as, unless the Spanish giants win their appeal, he will serve the second match of his two-game ban.
Madrid badly felt Ronaldo’s loss when the £80million man missed two months earlier this season through injury, but they proved against Depor that they are not reliant on the former Manchester United winger.
Defender Raul Albiol said: “You cannot depend on one player. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best in the world, but we are a team.
“We have a lot of players in this squad and, despite the absences, we’ve shown that whoever plays we will be at the same level. The team is capable of winning with or without Ronaldo.”
Whilst Madrid will be looking to put one over Barcelona’s city rivals this weekend, Pellegrini’s men will also be hoping their neighbours Getafe can do them a favour when they take on Pep Guardiola’s side.
Getafe suffered a setback last night when they went down 2-0 to Sevilla in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final, but they have not lost on their last two trips to the Nou Camp.
Barca, for whom midfielder Andres Iniesta is set to make his 200th league appearance for the club, are still unbeaten in La Liga this season, though, and have won their last five league and cup games without conceding a goal.
Elsewhere this weekend, two clubs will be under the leadership of new coaches with ninth-placed Villarreal and 17th-placed Real Valladolid both having made changes following last weekend’s matches.
Villarreal replaced Ernesto Valverde with Juan Carlos Garrido and the former reserve team coach faces a daunting first game in the hotseat as the Yellow Submarine go to a Real Mallorca side who have won all nine of their home matches to date.
New Valladolid boss Onesimo Sanchez, who took over from Jose Luis Mendilibar, also faces a baptism of fire as his struggling team are away to third-placed Valencia.
Bottom club Xerez go to Athletic Bilbao with renewed hope following their 2-1 win over Mallorca, although they are still six points adrift at the foot of the standings.
The two other teams in the relegation zone, Tenerife and Real Zaragoza, face Osasuna and Sevilla, respectively.
At El Sardinero, stuttering Atletico Madrid face in-form Racing Santander for the second of three meetings with the Cantabrian side in a week. The two sides also face each other in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, with the first leg being played tonight.
Also, Sporting Gijon go to Almeria and Malaga host Deportivo La Coruna.