Madrid: Jose Mourinho goes in search of his first win as manager of Real Madrid with an expectant Santiago Bernabeu crowd poised to scrutinise his home debut against Osasuna on Saturday.
The Portuguese coach had a disappointing start to his Real career drawing 0-0 at Real Mallorca in his first game in charge while title rivals Barcelona trounced Racing Santander 3-0.
“I am a coach, not Harry Potter. He is a magician. Magic is fiction and I live for football, which is real,” explained Mourinho.
“I’ve only been in Madrid for two months. Do you know how many training sessions I have had with everyone together, including the new signings? Not even 10.”
An untimely round of Euro 2012 qualifiers have not helped Mourinho’s cause, but Madrid fans will expect their first goals and three points of the campaign against Osasuna.
Mourinho defends a remarkable personal run of 136 home league games unbeaten in his spells with FC Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan with his last home defeat back in February 2002 when Beira Mar beat his Porto side 3-2.
Real must do without winger Cristiano Ronaldo who sustained an ankle injury in the Mallorca game and is facing a race against time to be fit for the Champions League group opener against Ajax on September 15.
Osasuna are managed by Real icon Jose Antonio Camacho who won nine league titles in his 15 years as a Madrid player and briefly managed the club.
“Who says we can’t win there (at the Bernabeu)?” said Camacho.
“We almost won last season when we lost 3-2 and should have won 3-2. We will go out to pressure them on their own ground and if they score five then they score five.”
Barcelona began their title defence with a 3-0 victory at Racing and face promoted Hercules on Saturday.
Argentine international midfielder Javier Mascherano hopes to make his league debut following his 22-million-euro move from Liverpool while striker Bojan Krkic hopes for a look-in following Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s departure to AC Milan.
Bojan, who recently turned 20, has inherited the famous number 9 shirt from Ibrahimovic and is the first home-grown player to wear the jersey since Jordi Cruyff 15 years ago.
“This jersey won’t weigh me down,” promised Bojan. “I have worn the number 9 shirt at Barcelona for many years (in the youth teams) and it is something I have dreamed of since I got into the first team.”
Barcelona went last season unbeaten at Camp Nou in the league so it is a tall order for Hercules who are back in the top-flight for the first time since the 1996/97 season.
Hercules coach Esteban Vigo, who played for Barcelona between 1977 and 1987, recently pulled off a major transfer coup with the capture of veteran France star David Trezeguet from Juventus.
Trezeguet, now 32, won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European championships with France and is in line to make his debut against Barcelona.
Atletico Madrid, recent winners of the European Super Cup, top the league on goal difference but have to win a tough trip to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday if they are to stay at the summit.
Atletico were the only team to beat champions Barcelona in the league last season but Colombian defender Luis Perea insists they are not ready for a title tilt.
“Getting back into the Champions League is the aim,” said Perea. “Comparing ourselves with Barcelona and Real is a bit hasty.”
In other matches, Sevilla host Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday aiming to make it a maximum six points from the first two games to help put their Champions League qualifying exit behind them as they focus on repeating last season’s top four finish.
Valencia, third last season, began with a 3-1 win at Malaga and are boosted by the return to fitness of striker Roberto Soldado - a 10 million euro signing from Getafe in the summer - for Saturday’s home match against Racing.
Barcelona v Hercules (1700 GMT), Valencia v Racing Santander (1700 GMT), Real Madrid v Osasuna (1900 GMT), Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid (2100 GMT)
Sunday: all 1600 GMT unless stated
Getafe v Levante, Sporting Gijon v Mallorca, Real Zaragoza v Malaga, Villarreal v Espanyol (1800 GMT), Sevilla v Deportivo La Coruna (2000 GMT)
Almeria v Real Sociedad (2000 GMT)