Real Madrid take on their second successive Basque opponents this weekend when we welcome Athletic to the Bernabeu. As expected, we suffered quite a bit in Osasuna on Sunday but our problems against teams from the Basque region should be somewhat eased now that we return home to Madrid. The issue of Owen/Ronaldo/Raul will once again be the central talk this week, because everybody except Perez can see that Owen, at this moment in time, is the better option than Raul- at least domestically. With one eye on Tuesday's Champions League game with Juventus, it wouldn't surprise me if Luxemburgo starts with Owen this weekend and gives Raul a rest.
Athletic have an absolutely woeful away record from home this season (see stats below) but they are the undisputed comeback kings of Spanish Football this season. They came back from 0-3 down against Osasuna three weeks ago to win 4-3, and last night they came back from 0-3 down against Betis to draw 4-4, which shows they have a lot of heart and a strong team spirit. As a result we can't relax in this match, and have to be very clinical in front of goal. I am a little bit worried since the players will definitely be thinking about Juventus, but I expect a professional performance and all three points. Realistically, Barcelona will beat Mallorca at the Camp Nou on Sunday evening so we can't afford anything less than the win.
Luis Figo returns after a one-match suspension, so I expect Guti to start with Gravesen in mind for Juventus.
Roberto Carlos is suspended, so Raul Bravo might come into the side. :wallbang:
If it was up to me, I would rest Zidane as well and start with Solari.
Real Madrid Home Record:
P12 W10 D0 L2
% of points accumulated at Home: 83%
Athletic Bilbao Away Record:
P11 W1 D4 L6
% of points accumulated on Road: 15% :eekani:
Real Madrid: WWWWW
Athletic Bilbao: DWDDD
La Liga| Saturday, 19 February 2005| 19:00 GMT| Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
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