Madrid: It is all smiles at Real Madrid these days with Jose Mourinho’s team topping the Spanish first division and their Champions League group after going the first ten games of the season unbeaten.
Real have plundered 10 goals in their last two league matches on their way to reaching the league summit and host Racing Santander at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday buoyed by an impressive 2-0 Champions League win over AC Milan on Tuesday.
Real are currently a point ahead of Villarreal, Barcelona and Valencia and the hard-to-please Madrid fans appear impressed by Mourinho’s work, applauding the team off at the Bernabeu following Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over AC Milan.
“I really enjoyed the applause for the team as they deserved it,” said Mourinho. “It says that the Bernabeu don’t just appreciate the magic but also the hard work and that is something that pleases my team and me.”
Mourinho admitted this week he would welcome Manchester United’s want-away striker Wayne Rooney at the club but they don’t seem short of firepower at the moment and are the league’s top-scorers.
Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo has scored five goals in his last three matches in all competitions and the world’s most expensive player has an incredible strike rate since joining Real, netting 39 goals in his 45 games for the club.
Champions Barcelona laboured to a 2-0 Champions League home win over FC Copenhagen on Wednesday and are in the unfamiliar position of chasing Real having led from the front for the past two seasons.
Barcelona are at bottom side Real Zaragoza on Saturday looking for a fourth successive away triumph against a team that have yet to win this season.
Barca have been dominating teams but failing to kill the opposition off and Spain World Cup star David Villa is having a hard time of it, netting just twice in the league this season following his 40-million-euro move from Valencia.
“Goals are the responsibility of everyone and we all have to help out,” said Barcelona captain Carles Puyol. “We are relaxed about Villa as he is one of the best strikers in the world and we don’t have any doubts about him.”
After facing former employer Valencia last Saturday, Villa comes up against another of his old clubs in Real Zaragoza, where he spent two successful seasons scoring 32 league goals in 73 games.
Valencia saw their unbeaten league start come to an end with a 2-1 loss at Barcelona last weekend and hope to get back to winning ways with victory at home to Real Mallorca on Saturday.
Valencia, who drew 1-1 with Rangers on Wednesday in their Champions League match, sit a point behind Real with an identical record to Barcelona.
Villarreal are above the duo on goal difference after a stellar start but have a testing home match against Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
Atletico are down in fifth, three points off the trio of second-placed teams, and will be out for revenge having lost home and away to Villarreal last season.
Uruguayan international defender Diego Godin will hope to force his way into the Atletico starting line-up against his old club Villarreal, who sold him for eight million euros in the summer.
In other matches, Sevilla host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday as both teams look to iron out their inconsistent form.
Sevilla are a point above Bilbao in seventh and unbeaten at home but need to turn draws into wins at the Ramon Sanchez Pijuan.
Elsewhere, second from bottom Deportivo La Coruna travel to promoted Real Sociedad on Monday in search of their first win of the season.
Real Zaragoza v Barcelona (1500 GMT), Real Madrid v Racing Santander (1700 GMT), Valencia v Real Mallorca (1900 GMT)
Sunday: - all 1400 GMT unless stated
Espanyol v Levante, Osasuna v Malaga, Almeria v Hercules, Getafe v Sporting Gijon, Sevilla v Athletic Bilbao (1600 GMT), Villarreal v Atletico Madrid (1800 GMT)
Real Sociedad v Deportivo La Coruna (1800 GMT)