The world's two richest
clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, take up their lonely duel for
the title against sides battling for financial as well as La
Liga survival this weekend.
Jose Mourinho is closing in on Real's first league title in
four years as they travel to face Real Betis on Saturday with a 10-point lead over Barca and 13 games left to play.
The European and Spanish champions journey to play Racing
Santander on Sunday with Pep Guardiola's hopes of a
fourth consecutive league title looking ever more remote.
As rumours ripple through the media of multi-million euro
deals to lure away perhaps world's two most sought-after
coaches, Mourinho and Guardiola, Betis and Racing operate in a
completely different environment.
The two La Liga sides have around 214 years of history
between them and share more than just a mainly green strip.
They are both in administration with a combined debt of
around 100 million euros and have both suffered from
institutional instability caused by recent disputed changes in
Betis finished fourth in La Liga in 2005 and played in the
Champions League the following season when they beat Chelsea in
the group stage, but suffered relegation in 2009.
Under Pepe Mel they have played some eye-catching attacking
football on their return to the top-flight but lie 12th, six
points above the relegation places.
Real have only dropped points in three of 25 matches so far
and arrive after a run of nine consecutive away wins.
La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo has 30 goals which is
more than Betis have managed between them all season (29).
"There are very few who know how to stop this Madrid side,"
Betis defender Antonio Amaya told the club's radio station.
"It's a team from another league, but we aren't scared. In
our stadium with our fans will give them the odd fright."
Racing sacked their second coach of the season on Wednesday,
Juan Jose Gonzalez following Hector Cuper out of the door,
without a full-time replacement being named.
They shape up to host Barcelona three points from safety in
18th place and without a win in seven outings.
Barca have Lionel Messi back from suspension, the three-time
World Player of the Year has scored 28 goals, seven more then
the entire Racing squad all season.
The Argentine struck an incredible five goals against Bayer
Leverkusen in the Champions League on Wednesday and is likely to
face Racing reserve keeper Mario Fernandez with Tono suspended.
"I've never had the chance to play a team as important as
Barca," Fernandez told reporters.
"You can surprise Barca, even though they compete in a
different league, and they have already dropped a number of
points away from home. All we can do is go out and give our
Guardiola's side have dropped 16 of their 18 points so far
away from the Nou Camp this season.
Tony Pulis is set to leave Premier League side Stoke City
Manchester City and the New York Yankees have formed a new Major League Soccer team
Real Madrid president under scrutiny after latest coaching project ends in disarray
Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho will part company at the end of the current season
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