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By ESPN Staff

Casillas: Copa win eases league woes

Iker Casillas believes success in the Copa Del Rey can help Real Madrid redeem their disappointing start to the La Liga season, after they defeated Valencia 2-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

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• Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia

A Karim Benzema strike and an own goal from Jose Guardado moved Real closer to a semi-final berth, although Valencia were unlucky not to capitalise on a number of chances.

Jose Mourinho's men sit 18-points behind Liga leaders Barcelona, with the Copa Del Rey appearing to be Real's best chance of success this season.

Standing in the way of domestic cup glory, though, is a potential semi-final clash with Barca and goalkeeper Casillas insists his side must continue their solid form in the competition.

"Playing the first leg at home, it was important to keep a clean sheet," Casillas said. "Valencia are a tough team and I am convinced that the return leg will be difficult. Our performance suffered, but the result is excellent.

"We have a complicated route in the Copa and we know it. If we qualify, we have a hypothetical clash with Barcelona or Malaga, which is fine. But the victory gives us confidence and helps us to forget the pain of our league form."

Real assistant coach Aitor Karanka admitted both sides looked lacklustre in front of goal, blaming the missed opportunities for the result rather than the contentious offside calls from the officials.

"The result could have been different, because both us and them had very clear chances," Karanka said. "They had one with Jonas and we did with Cristiano. They are chances that it is difficult to understand how players of that quality miss them.

"The result could have been a 3-1. But in the sense of missed chances, not because of the referee, because neither of the offsides were goals."

Karanka was forced to respond to suggestions that Real have given up on their league ambitions and are concentrating on victory in the Champions League and Copa Del Rey.

"You always want to play well and win," he said. "It is very difficult that many people think that you're neglecting the league and focusing on the cup and the Champions League, that we change our mentality in the league and that we're not playing for anything but there are teams racking up points behind us and we need to keep scoring points and if not it is tough to change the mentality from thinking that you're not playing for anything, when in reality we play for everything."


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