Real Madrid look for 11th straight win, against Atletico

March 6th, 2009 - 12:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, March 6 (DPA) Spanish giants Real Madrid will be looking for an 11th Primera Liga win Saturday, at home to unpredictable crosstown rivals Atletico.
Second-placed Real have put together their best league run since 1963, though more by defensive solidity than by attacking prowess.

They are now just four points behind shaky leaders Barcelona, and in good heart.

“We feel that we can beat anybody right now,” said right-back Sergio Ramos, “though Saturday’s derby will be difficult.”

Ramos said that Real will not “reserve our force” for Tuesday’s Champions League showdown away to Liverpool where they have to make up a 1-0 deficit.

The whites will be without suspended defender Pepe Saturday, while Atletico have midfielder Raul Garcia suspended.

Atletico will make the short trip to the Estadio Bernabeu in good heart, as a result of last Sunday’s extraordinary 4-3 defeat of Barcelona.

They have not beaten Real since 1999, but South American strikers Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero are in the mood after scoring two apiece against Barca.

Atletico are in fifth place, no less than 17 points behind Real.

At the same time Saturday, Barca will be looking for their first win in four league games, at home to Athletic Bilbao in what will be a dress rehearsal for the May 17 King’s Cup final between the two sides in Valencia.

Barca edged their way into the final on Wednesday with a 2-1 aggregate win over Mallorca. Bilbao thrashed Sevilla 3-0 to secure a 4-2 aggregate triumph.

Also Saturday, fourth-placed Villarreal will be at home to lowly Espanyol.

On Sunday, crisis club Valencia will be looking for their first win in five games, away to bottom side Numancia.

The Valencia players have not been paid since December, due to the club’s financial crisis, which has also caused the construction of their new stadium to be suspended.

Valencia captain Carlos Marchena denied Wednesday that the payment problem was responsible for the team’s poor form, but added that “there is a lot of tension at the club right now.”

Sunday’s other games are: Recreativo Huelva vs Valladolid, Mallorca vs Betis, Osasuna vs Sporting Gijon, Deportivo Coruna vs Racing Santander, Sevilla vs Almeria and Getafe vs Malaga.

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