MADRID - Real Madrid's trip to play
Espanyol in Barcelona on Sunday will see two of La
Liga's most attack-minded sides lock horns and Espanyol coach
Mauricio Pochettino is expecting end-to-end action.
The match at the club's new stadium is likely to be a stiff
test for Real, who are seven points behind leaders Barcelona
with just over half the season played.
Espanyol, one of the surprises of the campaign, are sixth
and Pochettino said he would not compromise on the club's
attacking style against Jose Mourinho's Real side.
"We are a team who goes on the offensive from the start,
continually, and Madrid will no doubt do the same," the former
Argentina international told a news conference on Wednesday.
"That's why I expect a match with plenty of end-to-end stuff
Real lost 1-0 to Osasuna and drew 1-1 with Almeria in their
last two league away games and defender Raul Albiol said the
team cannot afford another failure.
"We have some difficult away matches still to play and we
already slipped up in our last two," he told local media on
Thursday. "We have no margin of error because that would mean
practically saying goodbye to the league title."
Champions Barca will be looking to extend their La Liga
record run of 16 straight wins when they visit Sporting Gijon on
The Catalan club and their fans have been lifted this week
by the news that coach Pep Guardiola, who has won eight trophies
in only two and a half years in charge, has extended his
contract until the end of next season.
"It's great news," Barca's Brazilian defender Maxwell said
in an interview with the club's TV channel on Wednesday.
"We are all very pleased with him. We always try to respond
with work and effort."
Villarreal, who are nine points adrift of Real in third,
play at Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday and fourth-placed
Valencia are at Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Atletico coach Quique Sanchez Flores is under pressure after
a run of three league defeats and they have won only one of nine
matches this year in the league and King's Cup, denting their
hopes of qualifying for next season's European competition.
"We are in a difficult situation after consecutive defeats,"
defender Diego Godin told a news conference. "Now there is
nothing else for it but to look ahead to the Valencia game and
go out to beat a tough opponent."
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