Real Madrid ready for Zaragoza clash
Madrid, Spain (Sports Network) - Real Madrid and Real Zaragoza will be battling at the Bernabeu on Saturday to see which side can lock down a third successive La Liga win.
Madrid is unbeaten in its last five league contests and has taken six points from two games since its 2-2 draw with Barcelona on October 7.
Zaragoza, meanwhile, has been a pleasant surprise after narrowly avoiding relegation last term. Los Blanquillos have taken 12 points from their opening nine games to occupy a spot in the top-half of the La Liga table.
It has not gone unnoticed - Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has recognized the threat that Zaragoza poses.
"The key to winning is to play well," said the Portuguese tactician. "Zaragoza are not the same side that avoided relegation at the last minute last year. They are working in the right direction and are getting points in almost every match and if they don't manage to then it is always closely fought.
"They are a competitive team that always play to score. To win we have to play well, because when Real Madrid do not play well, we don't win."
Mourinho has the tough task of balancing a heavy fixture list that has seen Real play a Copa del Rey match midweek with a Champions League tilt on the horizon.
"This week we have been able to rest the players who have been playing 90 minutes in almost every match," said Mourinho. "We have to forget that there is a Champions League match on Tuesday, since that is often a distraction. We have analyzed Zaragoza well so that we know them as well as we can. They have a focused coach who is methodical and competitive and the match will not be easy."
Real Madrid will be hopeful of closing the gap at the top of the La Liga table on Saturday, but in order to do that, it must hope for Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to drop points.
Barcelona and Atletico are deadlocked on 25 points apiece, seven points clear of third-place Malaga. All three teams are in action on Saturday as Barcelona hosts Celta Vigo, Atletico heads to the Mestalla to face Valencia and Malaga welcomes Rayo Vallecano to the Estadio La Rosaleda.
Mallorca's five-game unbeaten run to start the season seems like a distant memory. The club remains stuck on the same 11 points that it amassed through the first five games, and it will look to avoid a fifth straight defeat on Sunday when it heads to the Riazor to face Deportivo.
Also on Sunday, Real Sociedad hosts Espanyol at the Anoeta, Osasuna hosts Valladolid at the Estadio El Sadar, Granada hosts Athletic Bilbao at Los Carmenes, and Sevilla hosts Levante at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
And on Monday, Real Betis will try to extend its unbeaten streak to four games when it heads to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez to face Getafe.