Los Blancos of Real Madrid have three targets ahead of their Spanish La Liga fixture against Sevilla. They want to build momentum, avoid injuries and possibly get three points. The fact is that the league champions – more than 15 points off the top spot – have switched their focus on UEFA Champions League glory.
Next week, they will host Manchester United on home soil so Saturday’s match against Sevilla appears as a perfect warm-up for the Spanish giants. Jose Mourinho needs to seduce Real Madrid’s home supporters as their influence will be vital against the Red Devils come next Wednesday.
beIN Sport USA serves up an exciting week of top European action featuring 16 matches live from Spain's Primera Division, Italy's Serie A, France's Ligue 1 and the English Championship. The live coverage will span across both of their English and Spanish language channels beIN SPORT and beIN SPORT en Español.
The live coverage for the week February 9-15, 2013 kicks off on Saturday where they will feature a full morning of exclusive live broadcasts from Serie A and La Liga, including the Spanish Champions Real Madrid home match against Sevilla.
The Mestalla has not been a great place for Barcelona as of late. From their last 10 visits in all competitions, the Blaugrana have only managed three victories, three defeats and four draws.
Sunday, Tito Vilanova's side will have to put their 1-1 draw against Real Madrid behind them and focus on grabbing their first win at the Mestalla since their 0-1 victory in March of 2011, thanks to a 77th minute goal from Lionel Messi.
Ernesto Valverde's side has been in good form as of late, having won five of their last six matches in the domestic league. Their one defeat came at the hands of Real Madrid with Jose Mourinho's side defeating Los Che 0-5 at the Mestalla.
Get your printable guide – Spanish La Liga Matchday 22
The month of February begins with three days of league football in Spain and Real Valladolid will open proceedings with a home fixture against UEFA Europa League runners-up Athletic Bilbao. The latter, in 13th position, stunned Atletico Madrid 3-0 last week and could move two places up with victory over Valladolid this weekend.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were overshadowed by the prowess of Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Raphael Varane in El Clasico on Wednesday. Will the world’s two best players resume their scoring adventure?
Granada have been doing just enough to stay above the relegation zone in the Spanish Primera Division. However, they suffered a miserable 3-0 loss to Sevilla last week underlined their inconsistent run composed of two wins, one draw and two defeats in the last five matches. Saturday’s hosts, who commenced the year with a 2-1 loss at home to Valencia, will be hoping to kick-start February in better fashion. Snatching something away from Real Madrid would be ideal.
Los Blancos have roughly a month to think about their second Clasico of the year. The second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie will not take place until late February. In between this crunch fixture, Real Madrid will have difficult battles against Sevilla in the Spanish Primera Division and Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League.
The two maestros have been in the twilight of their careers and have taken world football by storm with their performances. The Ronaldo vs Messi era truly began when Barcelona demolished their archrivals from Castilla 5-0 at the Camp Nou back in November 2010.
Messi was clearly victorious in that contest, scoring for the very first time against a team managed by Mourinho. The rivalry between La Pulga and CR7 has come a long way since then and both men have been very influential every time the two sides have faced each other in El Clasico.
It is impossible to express their quality in words and in their case it sounds true that actions speak louder than words. Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentine wizard Lionel Messi are in a constant battle against one another for the right to be called football’s greatest ever player.
Several factors could decide El Clasico on Wednesday night. They are all being discussed by soccer pundits ahead of this Spanish Cup battle.
Barcelona have never hesitated to replace Victor Valdes by Pinto in cup matches. Like it happened in the 2011/12 Spanish quarter-finals or in the 2010 Copa del Rey final, Pinto is expected to be in post against Real Madrid. This time, his opposite number will not be Iker Casillas.
The World Cup winner suffered a serious hand injury against Valencia last week and will not return to action until April or May according to club doctors. Could the omission of first-choice goalkeepers Victor Valdes and Iker Casillas – for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively – spark a goal fiesta at the Bernabeu on Wednesday?
Getafe failed to create clear cut opportunities and as a result of which they could not score. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo had a great time in the second period. The number 7 player scored a sensational hat-trick and looks in top class form ahead of the game against fierce rivals Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.
Ronaldo was assisted by Di Maria and Ozil respectively for his opening two goals of the game. The third came from 12 yards out when he converted a penalty. The Portuguese superstar was taken off by Jose Mourinho in the 73rd minute to make way for Karim Benzema.
Wednesday’s Spanish Cup fixture against Barcelona is a very crucial one with final tickets at stake. Real Madrid have already lost the La Liga. They will face Manchester United in Europe and it is an open secret that the Champions League is arguably the most difficult trophy to win.
Getafe have not tasted victory in La Liga for a long time now. Their last league win dates from December 1, 2012. It would take something special for the Azulones to put an end to this six-match winless run in the Spanish Primera Division and the Santiago Bernabeu is not an easy venue.
However, champions Real Madrid will remember that Getafe stunned them 2-1 when both sides met in the first leg of this fixture back in August. For Jose Mourinho, a repeat of that result on Sunday might seem equal to tying a rope around the neck.
Barcelona tasted defeat last week against Real Sociedad in a match that not many would have expected them to lose. After going up 0-2 within the first 25 minutes, both Barcelona and neutral fans would have expected a blowout in favor of the Blaugrana.
Little did everyone know that Real Sociedad would do something no one has managed to do this season in La Liga.
A red card for Gerard Pique did not make the task any easier, but with a man advantage and down 1-2, Sociedad rallied the troops and managed to grab a 90th minute goal to give them the very shocking 3-2 victory over Tito Vilanova's side.
Get your printable guide – Spanish La Liga Matchday 21
There is basically no contest at the top of the Spanish La Liga table. Barcelona look set to go all the way to win the title while Real Madrid, for the sake of pride, do not want to give up.
This weekend’s fixtures will see Los Blancos engage in a local derby against Getafe while the Catalans will welcome Osasuna at the Camp Nou. In truth, the attention of the public has already diverted to Barca and Madrid’s meeting in the Spanish Cup.
Valencia were on a four-match winning streak until they lost to Real Madrid in midweek. That encounter, in the Spanish Copa del Rey, was marred by controversy as wrong offside calls went against Valencia amid other incidents.
As a result, this weekend’s league encounter is being hyped around the revenge factor. Los Che, who are not favourites to progress to the Spanish Copa del Rey semis, will be out to torment Los Blancos.
The latter are facing an embarrassing situation in La Liga being 18 points off the top of the standings. It seems to be only a matter of time before Real Madrid officially give up on defending their title. In the meantime, they are yet to reach the 40-point mark.
Get your printable guide – La Liga Matchday 20
In between crunch Spanish Copa del Rey action, La Liga returns with its 20th round of fixtures. Real Madrid remain 18 points behind old foes Barcelona but the latter have claimed to remain concentrated until the end.
This weekend, the Blaugrana will be away to Real Sociedad. Atletico Madrid will welcome Levante at the Vicente Calderon and third-placed Real Madrid will feature in their second game of the triple header against Valencia.
Malaga stunned Barcelona in the Copa del Rey in midweek and will play at home to Celta de Vigo on Matchday 20. Real Betis’ hopes are slim in the cup but things are different in La Liga as they seat only three points behind champions Real Madrid. Betis will close this round with an encounter against Athletic Bilbao on Monday.
Los Blancos were deprived of suspended Cristiano Ronaldo who has netted 16 of Real Madrid's 45 goals in the Spanish La Liga. The Portuguese superstar winger’s absence apparently took its toll as Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Callejon, Angel Di Maria and Karim Benzema all failed to find a way through past Osasuna’s goal line.
The shocking news of the night occurred when Kaka was flashed a rare red card – Real Madrid’s third sending off incident in as many games.
The only positive Jose Mourinho could take from Saturday night's stalemate in Pamplona is his team's defence. Despite the absence of injured duo Pepe and Fabio Coentrao as well as banned Spanish defender Sergio Ramos, Los Blancos clinched their seventh clean sheet in La Liga.
Team News & Analysis
There were doubles for Alexis Sanchez and David Villa on Thursday in Barca’s 5-0 win over Cordoba. Yet, the two forwards could miss the challenge against Los Boquerones for fitness reasons. Following the full availability of newly-crowned Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Pedro – who were all absent in the Copa del Rey this week – the manager is expected to rearrange his front again.
The return of these superstars in Vilanova’s team should alleviate concerns caused by the absence of Sergi Roberto. The central midfielder is expected to miss four weeks of action after picking up a hamstring injury against Cordoba.
The world’s two best players, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, have used text messaging to engage in a pre-match duel.
With 17 Clasico goals, Lionel Messi is just one strike behind all-time top scorer Alfredo Di Stefano. Out of these strikes, 10 have come in La Liga, five in Super Cup matches and two in Europe.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo is the only Real Madrid player in history to score in six consecutive matches against Barcelona.
He is eighth in the chart with 10 goals in El Clasico. He shares the spot with two former Real Madrid players – Spain’s Juanito and Mexican legend Hugo Sanchez.
Team News & Analysis
There is bad news for Madridistas as Cristiano Ronaldo will be missing in attack. The Portuguese superstar, who has netted 174 goals in 172 matches for Real Madrid since 2009, has to serve suspension after amassing his fifth yellow card on Matchday 18. Gonzalo Higuain will be tasked to replace Ronaldo. The former has not started a single match for his side since November.
Jose Mourinho has to reshuffle his plans with Sergio Ramos adding his names to the list of unavailable players. The Spanish defender has been hit with a five-match ban for inappropriate behaviour during Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey encounter at home to Celta de Vigo on Wednesday.
According to the report of referee Miguel Ayza Gamez who officiated Wednesday Copa del Rey fixture between Real Madrid and Celta de Vigo, Ramos declared after being flashed the red card: “You're a crook. You have been trying to f*** us all game long. It's the same as always you scoundrels.”
Ramos eventually apologized but this did not stop the Spanish Football Federation from reacting. The player has thus received a one-match ban for the foul on Celta de Vigo's Augusto Fernandez and a four-match ban for his behaviour towards the match officials. He will miss Real Madrid's upcoming three Spanish La Liga games as well as the Copa del Rey Last 8 two-legged tie against Valencia.
Sergio Ramos was sent off for this horror tackle during Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey Last 16 second-leg fixture at home to Celta de Vigo on January 9, 2013: