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50-50 Challenge: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

El Clasico 1 day ago
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Cobos: Neymar stronger in 2014-15

Barcelona 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 8, 2007

Beleaguered Real look for way out at Sociedad

MADRID, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Real Madrid have given their backing to beleaguered coach Fabio Capello but the Italian knows his position will become untenable if his team slump to a third defeat in a row when they visit Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Last weekend's 1-0 loss at home to relegation-threatened Levante, a fourth defeat in six league games, prompted an angry response from disillusioned Real fans who called for the heads of Capello and club president Ramon Calderon at the final whistle.

After getting his way and drumming Ronaldo out of the club, Capello is running out of excuses for his team's poor run of form and is now under heavy pressure to rehabilitate David Beckham as he looks for a way out of the crisis at Anoeta.

Opponents Sociedad are in far worse trouble, however, having won just two of their 21 games this season. They are second from bottom, eight points adrift of safety.

Striker Darko Kovacevic has scored more goals against Real than against any other team in the Primera Liga, but the Serb has played little this season and knows that victory is all that counts in Saturday's match.

'It's obvious that they are having a difficult time of it at the moment and aren't playing well,' he said on Wednesday. 'Now is the time for us to beat them. We need the points more than they do.'

Saturday's other match also promises to be a tense affair when second-placed Sevilla take on city rivals Real Betis who continued their revival under new coach Luis Fernandez with a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao last weekend.

Sevilla were the form team before the Christmas break, but have won only one of their five matches this year and can expect a hard time of it at the Ruiz de Lopera where the two teams fought out a dour 0-0 draw in the Cup earlier this month.

'I hope it won't be as defensive as the Cup match,' said Sevilla boss Juande Ramos. 'Both teams need the three points and if we want to stay at the top we need to win this one.'

Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute, top scorer in Spain with 16 goals, is a doubt because of a groin problem.

League leaders Barcelona are suffering from a similar mid-season dip having won only two of their last six games, but the Catalans received a double boost this week with the return of Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi.

Eto'o, who scored 50 league goals in the last two seasons, made his return after a four-month injury lay-off in the closing minutes of last weekend's 0-0 draw at Osasuna and should be given an extended run in Sunday's match at home to Racing Santander.

Messi has been given the all-clear by club doctors after recovering from a broken bone in his foot and should also feature, but Ronaldinho is doubtful because of bruising to his right knee.

Opponents Racing will be without their little and large strike duo Pedro Munitis and Nikola Zigic who are suspended.

Sunday's other stand-out match sees third-placed Valencia take on Bernd Schuster's Getafe at the Coliseo.

Getafe, who are in a comfortable eighth place in the table, trounced Valencia in the Cup and have lost just once at home this season, but their opponents are on a run after winning seven of their last eight games in the league.