Real look to home form to overturn Mallorca

January 14, 2008

MADRID, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Real Madrid will need to extend their flawless record at the Bernabeu if they are to overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit when they take on Real Mallorca in the last 16 of the King's Cup on Wednesday.

Real have won all 13 of their matches at home this season and although they have not always lived up to expectation in terms of style, they have been devastatingly effective.

Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has led the way with his clinical finishing and took his tally in the league to 11 goals with a double in the efficient, if unspectacular, 2-0 win away to basement side Levante on Sunday.

Van Nistelrooy is confident Real can turn the tables on Mallorca and advance to the quarter-finals of a competition they have not won since 1993.

'We are in very good form at the moment and we want to carry on like this,' he said. 'All our forwards are playing well and even though the team came under a lot of pressure against Levante we were more effective.'

The islanders, however, have played some of their best football in the Cup this season and will also take hope from the fact that they knocked Real out on their way to their triumph in the 2003 edition.

Real's arch-rivals Barcelona drew 1-1 against Sevilla in the first leg of their tie, Thierry Henry scoring a crucial away goal on his return to the starting line-up.

The Frenchman played his best game since joining Barcelona in their 4-0 win over Real Murcia on Saturday and his team mates believe his return to form will help compensate for the loss of Samuel Eto'o who is now at the African Nations Cup.

'We are really happy because he is on his way back to being at his best,' fullback Gianluca Zambrotta told reporters after the Murcia match. 'We have to make the most of his form at the moment. He has done a great job for the team.'

Sevilla are suffering after the loss of striker Frederic Kanoute and midfielder Seydou Keita to international duty and lacked their usual spark when they went down 2-0 at Athletic Bilbao at the weekend.

But coach Manolo Jimenez refused to blame the absences for his team's poor performance. 'If we play like this against Barcelona they will trample all over us,' he said.

The remainder of the ties are also delicately balanced, the only exception being Getafe's match at Levante where Michael Laudrup's side hold a comfortable 3-0 lead after the first leg in Madrid.