Real Madrid giants enter land of Eibar`s little people
Real Madrid`s superstars, flying high at the top of La Liga, enter the land of Spanish football`s little people on Saturday when they take on humble Eibar in the Basque country.
Madrid: Real Madrid`s superstars, flying high at the top of La Liga, enter the land of Spanish football`s little people on Saturday when they take on humble Eibar in the Basque country.
Unlike Real`s cavernous, fabled Bernabeu with its 85,000-capacity, Eibar`s Ipurua stadium has room for just 5,000 fans -- they have had to build temporary seating to accommodate fans wanting to see Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
The contrast between the two adversaries is also highlighted by their respective budgets -- 10-time European champions Real are worth 500 million euros.
Eibar, promoted last season, survive on 30 times less.
Despite the gulf in class and financial resources, Eibar have not been intimidated in La Liga where they sit comfortably in mid-table.
"At the Ipurua, we can cause trouble for anybody," said Eibar midfielder Saul Berjon.
However, Real are expected to keep rolling on as they start the weekend with a two-point lead over Barcelona.
They are undefeated in 13 matches in all competitions, scoring 52 goals and conceding just eight, although their planning for the trip to Eibar hasn`t been helped by a thigh injury to influential midfielder Luka Modric.
He will be out for around three months after picking up the injury while on international duty with Croatia.
"It`s a big blow for the club because Luka had been in great form," said German team-mate Toni Kroos.Barcelona host Sevilla, who are just two points behind them, facing a potential crisis of confidence having seen a six-point lead over Real disappear over the autumn.
Luis Enrique`s team now face a testing stretch of games -- after Sevilla, they travel to Apoel Nicosia in the Champions League, go to Valencia, face a derby against Espanyol before completing their European duties against Paris Saint Germain.
That game is likely to decide top spot in Group F and a seeded spot in the knockout round in the new year.
"We must get back to rediscovering beautiful football which characterises the team," said Enrique, whose gamble on signing Luis Suarez has yet to pay dividends with the controversial Uruguayan striker still seeking a first league goal.
Superstar Lionel Messi did little to calm Barcelona nerves this week when he gave an interview to an Argentine newspaper where he said he wished to remain at the Camp Nou but that "sometimes, things don`t go the way you want them to".
Messi is without a goal in three matches in La Liga but on Saturday he once again gets a chance to go past Telmo Zarra`s record of 251 goals to become the leading all-time scorer in the history of the league.
Meanwhile, seven months after being sacked by Manchester United, David Moyes returns to the dugout as coach of Real Sociedad with a trip to Deoprtivo La Coruna in store for the Scot.
Valencia are at Levante where they find themselves in the midst of a bizarre legal wrangle.
News website Plaza Deportiva reported the club are in dispute with DC Comics in the United States who claim that the club`s bat logo infringes their Batman design.
Athletic Bilbao v Espanyol
Atletico Madrid v Malaga, Eibar v Real Madrid, Barcelona v Sevilla, Deportivo La Coruna v Real Sociedad
Rayo Vallecano v Celta Vigo, Levante v Valencia, Elche v Cordoba, Villarreal v Getafe
Granada v Almeria