Primera Liga preview

Real revival needed after Cup giant-killing

November 13, 2008
By Reuters

Real Madrid captain Raul has urged his team mates to raise their game this weekend after a shock defeat by third-tier side Real Union in the King's Cup.

The injury-hit Primera Liga champions, fourth behind Valencia, Villarreal and leaders Barcelona after 10 matches, play at struggling Real Valladolid on Saturday having leaked eight goals in their last three matches, all at the Bernabeu.

"We have another match on Saturday and we have to move on and concentrate on the positives," Raul said on the club's website.

"We are all working hard and we will pick ourselves up," he said. "We are who we are and we are the ones who have to push the team forward."

Coach Bernd Schuster, missing key players including Dutch pair Ruud van Nistelrooy and Arjen Robben, had to add central defenders Fabio Cannavaro and Christoph Metzelder to his injury list after Tuesday's cup defeat on away goals at the last-32 stage.

Midfielder Ruben de la Red is out indefinitely after briefly passing out in the first leg against Real Union last month and defender Pepe and midfielder Mahamadou Diarra are both carrying knocks.

Real's recent poor run has increased the pressure on Schuster, while at the other end of the table Athletic Bilbao's Joaquin Caparros and Osasuna's former Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho are also feeling the heat.

The two clubs play each other on Sunday in Bilbao with winless Osasuna stuck at the bottom of the table on five points and Athletic one place above them on six with just one win.

Frontrunners Barcelona, one point ahead of Villarreal on 25, are looking for a ninth straight league win when they play at Recreativo Huelva on Sunday. Valencia and Real both have 23 points, with Unai Emery's side ahead on goal difference.

Villarreal, the only unbeaten team in the league, were dumped out of the King's Cup by third-tier side Poli Ejido on Wednesday and coach Manuel Pellegrini urged his players to put the embarrassment behind them.

"We would like to get as much support as possible from the fans, now more than ever, so that the team can make progress in the league and the Champions League," he said on the club's website.

Villarreal play at Malaga on Sunday.