La Liga's midweek programme will see Real Madrid play in-form Real Betis at the Bernabeu this Wednesday night. We really need to get back to winning ways after two back-to-back unfortunate defeats at the hands of Athletic and Deportivo. There is no need for fans to throw the toys out of their prams, Luxemburgo is actually still undefeated when playing his best team, since we started without many of our best players in our last two league games.
There are serious fitness doubts over Zinedine Zidane (hip) and Raul Bravo (hamstring). Ronaldo aggravated his toe injury during training this week and therefore missed the trip to Galicia, but he has been working out intensively in the Hydrotherapy pool this weekend trying to restore smooth motion in his toe and has a good chance of playing against Betis. Captain Raúl Gonzales is also expected to shake off a bout of flu to line up alongside Ronaldo with Michael Owen returning to the bench. Guti also has a good chance of making our squad if his muscle condition continues to improve. Ivan Helguera returns after a one-match suspension.
Barcelona face a local derby with fierce rivals RCD Espanyol on Tuesday night, so we could potentially be 11 points behind Barca going into this game. If they win and we lose, then we can kiss the championship goodbye. If Barcelona drop more points then we can't afford to not capitalize because we are starting to run out of games. We are usually at our best at the Bernabeu, so I expect us to grind out a hard-fought win and we can't have it any other way. Let's hope Zidane is passed fit because we really need his magic to overcome a quality side like Betis.
We have to keep the faith, and there aren't many coaches out there who are stronger than Vanderlei Luxemburgo.
"There are still a lot of games to play and the league is not over yet," said Luxemburgo.
"Eight points are not even three games.
"Also we have the direct meeting, which is a clear chance for us to narrow the gap."
Real Madrid Home Record:
P13 W10 D0 L3
% of points accumulated at Home: 77%
Real Betis Balompié Away Record:
P12 W2 D5 L5
% of points accumulated on Road: 31%
Real Madrid: WWWLL
Real Betis: DWDWL
16/10/2004: Real Betis Balompié 1-1 Real Madrid CF (Oliveira 30, Ronaldo 65)
31/08/2003: Real Madrid CF 2-1 Real Betis Balompié (Beckham 2, Moreno 34, Ronaldo 63)
La Liga| Wednesday, 2nd March 2005| 21:00 CET| Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
Al Jazeera Sport.
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Canal+ Sport (Poland) (Delay 21:30)
Real Madrid TV
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S.Sport 2 Hellas
Sky Sports 1 (Delay 22:00)