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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 12 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 6, 2006

Capello targets Copa del Rey after league setback

MADRID, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Fabio Capello suffered his first defeat at the Bernabeu as Real Madrid coach at the weekend and the Italian will be out to ensure there is no repetition of the incident in Thursday's King's Cup tie against lowly Ecija.

Real were unbeaten at home in Capello's first spell as coach in the 1996-97 season, but they came unstuck just five league matches into his second stint at the helm when they went down 2-1 to Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Despite the setback, Capello was upbeat about his side's performance and insisted he was pleased with the way they had played.

'We played a great game,' he said. 'I liked the team a lot, especially in the second half. It is the first time in the whole season that I really liked the way we played.

'We lost the game because we made two isolated mistakes that led to the goals.'

Real hold a slim away-goals advantage over third division Ecija after a 1-1 draw in the first leg, but they will expect to pull rank in Thursday's return.

David Beckham is likely to get a rare start, while Capello is also likely to give Jose Antonio Reyes and Ronaldo time on the pitch as the two players look to recover match fitness after injury.

However, Italian striker Antonio Cassano will not feature following his refusal to apologise for his recent outburst against Capello when he complained about his lack of first team opportunities.

Arch-rivals Barcelona surrendered the league leadership to Sevilla after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Deportivo Coruna in an absorbing match at the Riazor on Saturday.

Like Real, Frank Rijkaard's side will be out to convince their home fans that the setback was only temporary by notching up an authoritative victory in the Cup when they meet Badalona at the Nou Camp on Wednesday.

Barca enjoy a 2-1 advantage after their first leg against the third division side and look to be well on course for a place in the last 16.

The Cup was the top priority for Atletico Madrid at the start of the season.

But their hopes of winning a first piece of silverware in a decade are in danger of being dashed after just one round following a 1-0 defeat at home to fellow Primera Liga side Levante in the first leg.

The loss of influential strikers Maxi Rodriguez and Mista has hit Atletico hard and they have failed to find the net in their last four games.

Fernando Torres is struggling for form and coach Javier Aguirre will be under pressure to field Argentine teenager Sergio Aguero alongside the Spanish international in the starting line-up.

Holders Espanyol will be hoping that an improved performance in Sunday's draw against Valencia will give them the boost they need to overcome third division Rayo Vallecano after they were held 1-1 in the first leg.

There looks to be no way back, however, for struggling Real Sociedad who remain rooted to the bottom of the table after a 2-0 loss to Levante on Saturday.

The Basque side sacked coach Jose Mari Bakero after a crushing 4-1 defeat at second division Malaga in the first leg, but the situation remains almost as bleak under new boss Miguel Angel Lotina.