Spanish champion Real Madrid in poor shape for season opener

Go down

Spanish champion Real Madrid in poor shape for season opener

Post by The Reaper on Fri Aug 24, 2007 2:40 pm

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Two months after winning a record 30th Spanish league title, Real Madrid approaches its 2007-08 La Liga opener against crosstown rival Atletico after some shaky preseason results.

Bernd Schuster, who replaced the fired Fabio Capello in July to become Madrid's seventh coach in four years, has failed to make an impact. Madrid hopes the arrival of the former Getafe coach will herald an era of offensive play and contrast with Capello's gritty but unspectacular style of soccer.

But concerns grew last Sunday with a 5-3 loss to Sevilla at home in the Spanish Supercup.

"We're still a long way off from playing well," new Madrid forward Javier Saviola said. "We need to change our outlook, and we have to do it quick."

Schuster's lineup at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday will be much changed from the one Capello picked for the final day of last season, when Madrid (23-8-7) lifted its first major trophy in four years.

David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Ivan Helguera and Jose Antonio Reyes are gone, and Saviola, Wesley Sneijder and Royston Drenthe have arrived along with central defenders Pepe and Christoph Metzelder.

There also could be a place for newcomers Arjen Robben and Gabriel Heinze, whose signings from Chelsea and Manchester United on Wednesday raised Madrid's offseason spending to about $163 million.

With Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas doubtful, Jerzy Dudek, who joined from Liverpool, could make his Spanish league debut.

Seeking its first league win over Madrid since 1999 will be a new-look Atletico, which in the offseason lost captain Fernando Torres to Liverpool. Attacking midfielders Luciano Galletti and Martin Petrov also departed.

Among seven new signings is Reyes, who scored twice for Real in last season's finale, which won the league title.

Other arrivals are Portuguese forward Simao Sabrosa from Benfica, Spanish forward Luis Garcia from Liverpool and Villarreal forward Diego Forlan.

"This type of game is totally different. It has a different atmosphere. In derby games, and I have played them in Argentina, England and Uruguay, form doesn't matter," Forlan said.

Barcelona (22-6-10), trying for its third league title in four seasons, opens at Racing Santander on Sunday. During the offseason, it attempted to tighten its defense by acquiring Argentina's Gabriel Milito, France's Eric Abidal and the Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure. In attack, Thierry Henry has joined Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi, leaving coach Frank Rijkaard with an abundance of choices if all are healthy.

The Barcelona coach appeared unlikely to select all of the so-called "Fantastic Four" for Sunday's starting lineup, even though he says they can all play together.

"It would depend on the opponent's lineup, their physical state, injuries, training sessions, etc. There are many factors," Rijkaard said.

Sevilla (21-9-Cool, which won its fifth trophy in the last 15 months when it beat Madrid last weekend, hosts Getafe on Saturday as it tries to win its first league title since 1946. The two-time UEFA Cup champions were boosted by coach Juande Ramos' announcement Wednesday that he has rejected a lucrative offer from Tottenham Hotspur.

Another title candidate, Valencia (20-12-6), faces a tough start Sunday against local rival Villarreal, which finished fifth last season.

The three promoted teams -- Valladolid, Murcia and Almeria -- have difficult opening matches.

Second-division champion Valladolid visits UEFA Cup finalist Espanyol, while Murcia hosts Zaragoza and Almeria plays at Deportivo La Coruna.

The league begins without Real Sociedad for the first time since the 1966-67 season. The Basque team, league champion in 1981 and '82, finished 19th last season and was relegated with Celta Vigo and Gimnastic Tarragona.


Please visit my site : current number of members 76 or
The Reaper

Number of posts : 261
Location : in pluto
Favorite Sport : Tennis
Registration date : 2007-08-21

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum