Real Madrid’s resounding victory over Ajax in the Champions League this week could see them launch their title challenge after an indifferent start to the season. Whilst goals have not been hard to come by with an impressive 16 goals scored in their first 5 games, they stuttered to defeat at Levante and could only manage a draw at Racing Santander. Their 6-2 win over Rayo Vallecano came after conceding an early goal and they are aware that improvement is needed.
Midfielder Xabi Alonso told www.realmadrid.com: “It was strange to have so few chances to score against Racing. It’s preferable not to wait too long to score our first strike in each game because it makes us hasty. We have to control that. We can have many chances on goal in a straightforward offensive style thanks to the quality of our players. We will grow considerably as a team by combining that with the knowledge of what the team needs at any given time.” One player who is at the peak of his form is Cristiano Ronaldo who already has seven league goals to his name this season, including two hat-tricks, and scored a wonder goal in midweek.
Sevilla received a boost with the news that the injury sustained by top scorer Alvaro Negredo is not as serious as first thought. It had been feared that the 26-year-old Spain striker had torn his hamstring but he could make an immediate return. In his possible absence, Sevilla rely on Frederic Kanoute, who scored the winner in last weekend’s 1-0 home victory over Valencia. The pair have scored 15 of Sevilla’s last 16 league goals and represent a potent attacking force.
Atletico Madrid are Sevilla’s next opponents are will need to bounce back quickly from a crushing 5-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona. But coach Gregorio Manzano commented “The only positive thing to come from that match is that we won’t play Barcelona again until the second half of the season,” he said. “Hopefully we have learned an important lesson from that match. Against high-level competition you cannot concede two goals in the first 15 minutes.”
Real Betis suffered their first defeat of the season at Getafe on Monday night and have been the surprise package of the season along with Levante. Real Betis coach Pepe Mel respects his next opponents; “They deserve to be up there,” he said. “They have won the last three matches and are doing things in the right manner, it is an experienced team, they are well-organised and difficult to break down.”
Barcelona could be without midfielder Cesc Fabregas for three weeks following a leg injury sustained during training. The former Arsenal captain picked up a muscle problem in his right thigh and joins a growing Barca injury list that includes Andres Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez. Fabregas has been a revelation since his much-anticipated signing from the Gunners, helping the club win the Spanish Supercup on his debut and netting four goals in just seven appearances.