Brief news from La Liga
ahead of this weekend's matches:
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho declined to attend
Friday's regular pre-match news conference and his assistant,
Aitor Karanka, took questions instead ahead of Saturday's
opening Clasico of the campaign at home to Barcelona.
Mourinho has had a testy relationship with the Madrid-based
media since joining from Inter Milan at the end of the 2009/10
season and declined to speak before a La Liga game against Barca
in April, prompting a walkout by around 30 local journalists.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola is due to hold a news conference
later on Friday.
Karanka noted he had given more than 30 news conferences
since becoming Mourinho's assistant and refused to offer any
explanation for the Portuguese's absence.
He told the packed press room at Real's Valdebebas training
ground the club were treating Saturday's game like any other and
there was no need to make any tactical changes given their
recent impressive run of form.
"We tackle all our matches in the same way," the former Real
player said, adding that their planned 4-3-3 formation would
include Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria on the wings and
either Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuain at centre-forward.
"Tomorrow's is just one more game," Karanka said. "Of course
it's against a direct rival but that doesn't mean we have to
With roughly a third of the season played, leaders Real
have a three-point lead and a game in hand over second-placed
Barca, who are chasing a club record-equalling fourth
consecutive domestic league title.
Real have won their last 10 La Liga matches, and their last
15 in all competitions, while Barca have lost only one of 11 Clasicos against their great rivals since Guardiola took the
helm in 2008.
The former Barca and Spain midfielder has never lost at the
Bernabeu as coach, boasting three wins and two draws with 13
goals scored and five conceded.
Mourinho has a full squad available except for Portugal
centre-back Ricardo Carvalho, who is recovering from twisted
knee ligaments and has not played since late September.
Guardiola also has a full roster, apart from long-term
absentee Ibrahim Afellay, who is recovering from knee surgery in
his native Netherlands.
Third-placed Valencia, four points behind Barca with a
game in hand, need to pick themselves up for their game at
struggling Real Betis after they were eliminated from the
Champions League by Chelsea on Tuesday.
Captain Roberto Soldado said the club's goal now must be to
steal second spot from Barca.
"We are playing very well in La Liga and that is where we
have to find our motivation now," the striker told a news
conference on Thursday.
Seville-based Betis won their opening four matches of the
campaign but have since taken only one point from 10 games.
President Miguel Guillen backed coach Pepe Mel after the
club conceded in stoppage-time and lost 2-1 at Osasuna on Sunday
to slip to 16th. Mel told a news Friday conference only hard
work would help them turn things around.
"The only solution is to work, look forward and not
deteriorate further," Mel said. "Valencia knows how to
differentiate between competitions and they will already have
turned the page after the defeat to Chelsea."
Valencia's much smaller city neighbours Levante briefly
topped the table in October for the first time but have slipped
to fourth ahead of Saturday's game at home to fifth-placed
Sevilla's Ivory Coast striker Arouna Kone, who is on loan at
Levante, said on Thursday he would not celebrate if he scored
against the Andalusians and hoped to return there at the end of
"Let's see if at the end of the campaign Sevilla want to
sign me," he was quoted as saying in local media. "It will all
depend on [their coach's] decision but it would be nice."
Erratic Atletico Madrid, in eighth, face a tough trip to
Espanyol on Sunday following their 2-1 humbling at
third-tier Albacete in Thursday's King's Cup last-32 first-leg
Coach Gregorio Manzano, who fielded a second string side for
the cup game, told reporters after the defeat he was not
concerned about his job amid local media speculation he faces
the sack unless Atletico's form improves.
Berlin will stage Champions League final for the first time in 2015
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze ruled out of Champions League final against Bayern Munich
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
Stoke City and manager Tony Pulis part company by mutual agreement after seven years
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010