La Liga: Real threaten Sevilla stronghold

December 7, 2006

MADRID, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Real Madrid put their fine away record on the line on Saturday when they visit Sevilla's Sanchez Pizjuan, where the UEFA Cup holders have the league's only remaining 100 percent home record.

With five wins from six on the road Real are the league's best travellers but their cautious, counter-attacking approach has won few admirers.

Real leapfrogged Sevilla into second place last weekend with a laboured 2-1 home win over struggling Athletic Bilbao, but Sevilla coach Juande Ramos stopped short of joining those who criticise Real coach Fabio Capello's pragmatic methods.

'I prefer a different style of play to Real's but I don't want to say it is more effective. Playing this way they have caught up with Barcelona and gone past us. Although it isn't exciting they make the most of their chances,' Ramos said.

Sevilla slipped a point behind Real into third after surprisingly losing 2-1 away to Espanyol last weekend, but might be able to count on the return of winger Jesus Navas for Saturday.

The pacy 21-year-old, one of their most effective players, has been out with a knee injury since early last month. Ramos is also awaiting news on injured defenders Aitor Ocio, Julien Escude and Ivica Dragutinovic.

An under-strength Real drew 2-2 against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Wednesday when Brazilian striker Ronaldo took his tally for the week to three. They have midfielder Mahamadou Diarra suspended, though playmaker Guti returns.

The last time the two sides met in May Sevilla came out on top in a 4-3 thriller.

Real Sociedad, the only side without a win in the Primera Liga, face the daunting task of looking to break that statistic in the Nou Camp on Saturday against a Barcelona in full flow.

The league leaders appear to have shrugged off their indifferent form of the previous month and proved with the 2-0 Champions League win over Werder Bremen on Tuesday they can turn on the style when they need to.

Frank Rijkaard's side were held to a 1-1 draw away to Levante last time out, which left them just a point ahead of arch-rivals Real, and have an injury doubt over one of their form players, midfielder Andres Iniesta.

Sociedad are without defender Adriano Rossato who was injured in a training ground brawl with a team mate during the week.

Injury-hit Valencia, languishing in ninth place, have the perfect chance to put a stop to their slide when Deportivo Coruna visit on Sunday.

Depor have yet to win on their travels while Quique Sanchez Flores's side are without a win in six league games.