Saturday, June 22, 2024

Real and Barcelona desperate for victory

SoccerNews in La Liga 13 Sep 2008


Real Madrid are 40 million euros better off after selling Robinho to Manchester City, but his loss leaves the Spanish champions short of firepower in their quest for a third successive title.

Real coach Bernd Schuster was so concerned by the Brazilian's exit that he made two last-ditch offers for Valencia striker David Villa, top-scorer at Euro 2008, before the transfer window shut but the player decided to stay put.

“I was really happy when Valencia rejected the offer because it was a true gesture of confidence and I felt really wanted,” said Villa.

“They preferred me to stay than to take all that money.”

After failing to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United it represented another huge setback for Real but they must overcome it ahead of Sunday's home match against newcomers Numancia.

Real are looking to register their first points of the season after an opening 2-1 defeat at Deportivo La Coruna a fortnight ago.

Numancia defeated Barcelona 1-0 in their opening fixture and are targeting a second giant killing on their return to the top-flight.

Valencia started with a 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca and new coach Unai Emery returns to his old club Almeria on Sunday hoping to build on the good start.

Emery spent two seasons at Almeria winning promotion and guiding them to eighth in the table last season – the highest ever finish in the club's history – before jumping ship to Valencia in the summer.

Emery has been given an early season headache with the news that David Silva, courted by Manchester United in the summer, could be out for out for two to three months due to surgery on his left ankle.

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola had a nightmare start to his regime with a 1-0 reverse at Numancia that mirrored the problems of last season.

Guardiola stuck with the 4-3-3 system – with French international Thierry Henry again on the left wing – and the team again looked out of sorts.

“We were too desperate to win and maybe that let us down,” explained Brazilian right back Daniel Alves.

“It is better to make these mistakes now rather than in two months.”

Barcelona are at home – where they are far stronger – against Racing Santander on Saturday looking for a first win of the new campaign.

Neighbours Espanyol got off to a winning start but the departures of Albert Riera to Liverpool and Javier Zabaleta to Manchester City could be felt later in the season.

Veteran Irish full back Steve Finnan has come in from Liverpool and could come into contention for Sunday's match at Recreativo Huelva.

Real Betis hope to parade their new signing Spanish international Sergio Garcia – a ten million euro capture from Real Zaragoza – in Sunday's trip to Getafe.

After crushing Malaga 4-0 in their league opener Atletico Madrid have had the honour of sitting top of the standings for the first time in four years and defend top spot when they travel to Valladolid on Saturday.

Argentine Ever Banega, part of his country's Olympic gold winning team, is hopeful of making his bow after joining from Valencia on a season-long loan.

“I am not going to rush things because I want to be in the best form possible,” said Banega.

“However, I can't wait to make my debut in the Atletico shirt.”

Elsewhere, Real Madrid's conquerors Deportivo face another title candidate on Sunday with a trip to Villarreal.



Valladolid v Atletico Madrid, Barcelona v Racing Santander (1900 GMT), Sevilla v Sporting Gijon (2100 GMT)

Sunday (1600 GMT unless stated)

Malaga v Athletic Bilbao, Recreativo v Espanyol, Getafe v Real Betis, Villarreal v Deportivo La Coruna, Real Mallorca v Osasuna, Real Madrid v Numancia (1800 GMT), Almeria v Valencia (2000 GMT)


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