Barcelona looking for ninth straight win, Real for sixth

January 29th, 2009 - 8:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Thierry HenryMadrid, Jan 29 (DPA) Barcelona will be looking for their ninth successive league win Sunday, away to unpredictable Racing Santander.Barca are busy breaking all the records this season, and have in their sights Real Madrid’s 1989/90 record of 107 goals.

Josep Guardiola’s team have already scored 63 goals, with Samuel Eto’o putting away 19, Lionel Messi 14 and Thierry Henry 12.

On Wednesday, however, Guardiola was hard at work, as usual, trying to burst the bubble of euphoria and expectation by pointing out that “we have still not won anything.”

Santander managed to battle out a 1-1 draw in the Camp Nou in September and are always capable of springing a surprise, as Sevilla found to the cost last Sunday.

They are ninth in La Liga and looking forward to Barca’s visit.

“We will have to fight hard, and be ambitious and optimistic,” said veteran Santander striker Pedro Munitis.

Barca are 12 points ahead of second-placed Real Madrid, who are away to lowly Numancia on Saturday.

Real will be looking for their sixth straight win in chilly Soria, which is never an easy venue for illustrious visitors - particularly in winter.

Real’s injury crisis has cleared up, though they are still considering buying or loaning Ecuadorean Luis Valencia from Wigan Athletic.

Iconic Real captain Raul is now just one goal away from equalling Alfredo Di Stefano’s club record of 307 league goals.

On Tuesday Raul admitted that the departure of Ramon Calderon from the club presidency had “damaged the image of the club”, and that this image “needed to be improved.”

Saturday’s other game brings together Athletic Bilbao - who reached the cup semi-finals on Wednesday at the expense of Sporting Gijon - and seventh-placed surprise package Malaga.

In addition to the Santander-Barca clash on Sunday, Sevilla go to Gijon and Valencia are at home to Almeria.

Villarreal, meanwhile, are away to Deportivo Coruna and Atletico Madrid at home to Valladolid.

Sunday’s other games promise to be tense relegation battles. Espanyol play hosts to Recreativo Huelva, Betis take on Getafe and Osasuna face fellow strugglers Mallorca.

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