Real Madrid captain Raul is looking for the goal that will take him level with the great Alfredo di Stefano as the club’s all-time leading scorer when Real travel to Numancia on Saturday.
Raul scored his 306th goal last weekend and has the chance to equal di Stefano’s mark and help Real cut Barcelona’s lead at the top to 12 points.
“At the moment maybe it is easier to win a tenth European Cup than the league when you consider that Barca’s form is not dipping,” explained Raul.
“It’s not impossible to overcome a deficit of 12 points, but if they (Barca) don’t lose points it is not going to be possible to catch them.”
While Raul has iconic status at Real, Dutch winger Roysten Drenthe is finding out how demanding the fans can be after being jeered when he came on as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna last Sunday.
“Sunday was the worst day of my career so far,” confessed the 21-year-old Drenthe.
“I understand the fans to a certain extent because I am not playing to the same level I was before but I am trying.”
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is another Dutchman finding the going tough at Madrid and is still waiting for his first Real goal since joining from Ajax for 20 million euros in January.
Barcelona travel to face Racing Santander on Sunday targeting a ninth consecutive victory to fend off Real who have put some pressure on with five straight league wins.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta recently accused Real of using the media to try and unsettle the pacesetters with reports about Lionel Messi switching to Madrid.
Messi seems unperturbed by the rumours and scored twice in the 4-1 thrashing over Numancia last time out.
“He should be left in peace, so he can focus on training,” said coach Pep Guardiola.
“He looks better than ever. He’s the owner of his future, he just needs to know that this is his home and we’ll give him whatever help is necessary.”
Barcelona’s firepower has blown away teams this season and their three-pronged attack of Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry has scored a combined 45 goals – more than the entire Real Madrid team.
Barcelona need just two goals to make it 5,000 in the league but they are playing a Racing team that defeated high-flying Sevilla 2-0 last time out.
Serbian target-man Nikola Zigic has revitalised Racing since rejoining them on loan from Valencia and his 6ft 8in presence could cause Barcelona’s backline a few headaches.
Valencia slipped to a 3-1 defeat against Real Mallorca prompting coach Unai Emery to admit that he was to blame for the loss rather than the players.
Valencia sit fourth, four points behind Sevilla, with Emery hoping for a boost when his old side Almeria visit the Mestalla Stadium on Sunday.
Sevilla, three points behind Real, are at Sporting Gijon and Italian midfielder Enzo Maresco says his team are sometimes too worried about the threat posed by the opposition.
“You have to have respect for your opponents but it is them that have to watch out for us,” Maresca explained.
Atletico Madrid have yet to win in 2009 but are still only two points off the final Champions League spot going into Sunday’s home match with Valladolid.
Atletico coach Javier Aguirre desperately needs a win to ease the growing pressure but Uruguayan forward Diego Forlan says the players must take responsibility for the slump.
“It is the players out there on the pitch,” said Forlan. He (Aguirre) doesn’t play in the match.”
Athletic Bilbao v Malaga, Numancia v Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v Valladolid, Real Betis v Getafe, Deportivo La Coruna v Villarreal, Espanyol v Recreativo Huelva, Racing Santander v Barcelona, Sporting Gijon v Sevilla, Valencia v Almeria, Osasuna v Real Mallorca
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