MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead of
this week's matches, which are taking place after a strike by
players over unpaid wages was called off:
Real Madrid's defenders have not been performing as well
as they should in pre-season and need to lift their game for the
coming campaign, according to centre-back Ricardo Carvalho.
"We know we have to improve and we are working on it," the
Portuguese was quoted as saying in Friday's edition of sports
"It's not normal that we are letting in so many goals and we
have to work better as a team," the former Chelsea player added.
Jose Mourinho's side begin their quest to deny Barcelona a
club record-equalling fourth straight domestic at Real Zaragoza
Barca take on Porto in the European Super Cup in Monaco
later on Friday before hosting Villarreal in the Monday La Liga
match when new signing Cesc Fabregas could make his home
league debut after returning to his boyhood club from Arsenal.
Villarreal may still be reeling after being drawn in a
tough-looking Champions League group with Bayern Munich,
Manchester City and Napoli but left-back Joan Oriol is confident
they can challenge Barca at the Nou Camp on Monday.
"We'll try to use our weapons, pressuring them high up the
pitch and trying to get the ball off them," Oriol, whose brother
Edu played for Barca's B team before joining Zaragoza.
"We have always played really good matches against Barca and
we'll try to do so again," he told a news conference.
Real have been playing up the goal-scoring exploits of
forward Cristiano Ronaldo in the build-up to the start of the
season, noting on Friday that his 40 goals last term equalled a
record held by former Bayern Munich striker Gerd Muller.
German international Muller netted 40 in the 1971/72
campaign, a record for Europe's top five leagues. Ronaldo's 40
last season was the most ever in La Liga, beating a previous
best mark of 38 jointly held by Zarra and Hugo Sanchez.
Valencia, third last term, may still dip into the transfer
market before the window closes at the end of the month after
bringing in players that include midfielders Sergio Canales and
Dani Parejo, coach Unai Emery said on Friday.
"Valencia has the option until August 31 and we have to be
ready in case we can improve things," Emery told a news
conference, adding that the club were not only interested in
Big-spending Malaga start their campaign on Sunday at
Sevilla after a summer spending spree that brought
players including Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, Spain
midfielder Santi Cazorla and Valencia winger Joaquin to the
Qatari-owned Andalusian club.
Coach Manuel Pellegrini wants his side, which narrowly
avoided relegation last term, to qualify for Europe next season
and is also eyeing a strong performance in the King's Cup.
"We have a very good squad and it's up to the players to
show that on the pitch," the Chilean told a news conference on
Friday. "There is a lot of excitement [in the city] and that
gives us a responsibility to live up to."
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