Injuries could derail Real’s pursuit of Barcelona

first_imgIt’s a problem which has left “los blancos” the main victims of what the Spanish press have dubbed the “FIFA virus”.Despite the draw against Barcelona at Camp Nou two weeks ago, Madrid still have an eight-point gap to make up on their Catalan rivals, a task made even more difficult by the loss of so many key defenders.Right-backs Alvaro Arbeloa, injured in Spain’s 1-1 draw with France, and Fabio Coentrao are unavailable for a number of weeks while left-back Marcelo is expected to be out for three months after breaking his foot in a Brazil training session.Midfielder Sami Khedira and forwards Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain picked up knocks with their national sides and all could be rested ahead of an important Champions League tie at Borussia Dortmund next Wednesday.Mourinho will have to be creative to fill the full-back berths.Michael Essien has experience on the right while Sergio Ramos could also be used there with Raphael Varane or Raul Albiol coming into the centre of defence.Even using Varane is in doubt after the youngster picked up a muscle injury while playing for the French Under-21 side.Youngster Nacho Fernandez could make his first start of the season at left-back.Leaders Barcelona have few worries as they go to Deportivo La Coruna on the same evening, looking to make it four wins from four on the road.One player unaffected by the international break was midfielder Andres Iniesta.“I didn’t play the full 90 minutes of the two matches with Spain so I’m in good shape, my (groin) injury is forgotten and we all hope to be fit for the Depor game which will be complicated especially after the break,” he said.“There’s a long way to go, all sides go out to win games, particularly Madrid who are the current champions and they will want to win the title again so we can’t take the points for granted,” he said.“Also we have to concede that at the moment Atletico Madrid are our closest rivals.”On Sunday, Atletico face a tough away game at Real Sociedad who have won their three home games to date this season.Atletico are level with points with Barca at the top and eight ahead of city rivals Real.But their Turkish midfielder Arda Turan is another victim of the international break and will miss Sunday’s game along with Diego Costa who has a troubled knee.Raul Garcia is the likely replacement for Turan while Atletico will look to the rich goalscoring form of Gustavo Falcao to continue a run of nine straight victories in all competitions since the opening day 1-1 draw at Levante.SaturdayMalaga v Valladolid (1400 GMT), Real Madrid v Celta (1600 GMT), Valencia v Athletic Bilbao (1800 GMT), Deportivo v Barcelona (2000 GMT)SundayGetafe v Levante (1000 GMT), Espanyol v Rayo Vallecano (1400 GMT), Granada v Zaragoza (1600 GMT), Osasuna v Betis (1750 GMT), Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid (1930 GMT)MondaySevilla v Mallorca (1930 GMT)0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000MADRID, Spain, October 19 – Real Madrid are battling an injury crisis ahead of their home clash with Celta Vigo on Saturday as World Cup duty threatens the team’s La Liga pursuit of bitter rivals Barcelona.Madrid coach Jose Mourinho faces the loss of up to seven of the 19 players who went off on international duty after the vital 2-2 draw with Barcelona in their last league game.last_img read more

‘Frightening’ United lift Van Persie

first_imgVan Persie, who knows van Gaal well from their time together with the Netherlands national side, insisted the manager wanted input from the United players at team meetings as the club looks to recover from a relatively low seventh-place finish in last season’s Premier League which denied them European football this term.“He wants players to get involved in the meeting too. You have to give your own input, which is what the staff likes. That’s a bit of the Dutch thing. Everybody gets involved in the project. We are all working on it. Everyone has their own say, which is maybe new for some players but not for me as I know how he works.”Van Persie said a top four finish in the Premier League, which would qualify United for next season’s Champions League, was a “realistic target”.He added: “We have to make at least the top four. That’s a realistic target but it’s still early in the season.“We are here, everybody wants to win every game, every training session and even if we are playing a different kind of game like table tennis. We are winners. We are not here just to set low standards. We want them to be as high as possible, winning games and winning trophies.“This year we have a great manager, great staff, great fans so when you look at everything together it makes it hard (not to be in the Champions League). “Everything is in place to be up there competing with the very best teams. I think we can do it and we will.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) However, United’s defensive problems, which have seen them concede 13 goals in seven games so far this season, have limited the impact of their attack.Nevertheless van Persie was heartened by the way United held on to beat West Ham 2-1 last weekend despite being reduced to 10 men after Rooney was sent off.Asked if United will be able to frighten teams with their firepower, Dutch striker van Persie, speaking Monday at the launch of United’s first global sustainable technology partner Abengoa, said: “I think we can be able to actually do that. If you look at these players, they are great players in their individual way.“But now we are working together on this project and I think games like winning 4-0 against QPR help. We had a setback against Leicester (losing 5-3), but to win in these circumstances like the weekend sends a message and shows that even in these difficult games we can win. Now we have to extend that.“The first half was 11 v 11 and we were playing really well as a whole team. Eight minutes later it was 10 v 11 and the whole thing changed, but the way we fought for each other was unbelievable. It was a bit nerve-wracking at times, but we dug in and we did it so it gave us a lot of confidence.”– Top four ‘realistic’ – 0Shares0000MANCHESTER, September 30- Robin van Persie believes Manchester United’s expensively-assembled forward line have it in them to frighten their opponents. United manager Louis van Gaal has brought both Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria to Old Trafford create an offensive quartet, featuring both van Persie and England’s Wayne Rooney, which would be the envy of many a side.last_img read more