Valencia - FC Barcelona, 02/03/2013 | FC Barcelona
Just days after the exhausting midweek duel with Real Madrid in the Cup, FC Barcelona goes down the Mediterranean coast to face Valencia in the Mestalla in what promises to be a tough match. Valencia has improved a great deal since former Barça star Ernesto Valverde took over and has had the whole week to prepare for the clash. Meanwhile, the Barça players have had just a few days to recover from their efforts in the Bernabeu.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first own goal of his career to send Real Madrid to a shock 1-0 defeat at Granada in La Liga on Saturday, further damaging their already slim hopes of retaining the La Liga title. The result left the champions 15 points adrift of leaders Barcelona, who can extend their advantage over their great rivals to 18 with a win at Valencia on Sunday.
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has labelled his side's performance in Saturday's 1-0 loss to Granada as "horrible", insisting it is unacceptable for fatigue to be an issue for professional players. "The negative result is always the most important. We didn't even manage a draw. That is what bothers me about the result, but the team's first half performance bothers me a lot, it was horrible. In the second half we dominated and we had a chance to equalise but it was not enough to satisfy me."
Emilio Butragueno has claimed that Real Madrid were unlucky to fall to a 1-0 defeat against Granada and lamented the team's inability to find a way past the hosts' defence. "Granada defended very well and we struggled," the club director told their official website. "We were not inspired. True, we had few chances, fewer than usual, but we did not have any luck. Their defensive structure blocked us, but you always have the hope that the individual quality appears."
Espanyol's resurgence under coach Javier Aguirre gained steam as it beat visiting Levante 3-2, with substitute Christian Stuani guiding the Barcelona-based side to a fourth consecutive home win by scoring one goal and setting up another on Saturday.
Getafe's 3-1 victory over Deportivo leaves the latter floundering at the bottom of the league table. Deportivo was incapable of taking advantage of a favourable scoreline and having an extra man following Miguel Ángel Moyá's sending off.
A second-half goal from Markel Susaeta has earned Athletic Bilbao
a 2-2 draw away to Real Valladolid
in La Liga. Having set up his team's first goal, Susaeta tapped the ball home just five minutes after half-time to extend Bilbao's unbeaten run to three games after the Basque club had gone two goals down in the opening 15 minutes at the Estadio Municipal Jose Zorrilla in Valladolid.
German goalkeeping legend Oliver Kahn has rejected suggestions that Pep Guardiola's imminent move to Bayern Munich will result in instant success. However, former Bayern 'keeper Kahn is refusing to be swept away in the hype, insisting a Bayern and Guardiola union may not produce the desired results. "Guardiola brought up players from youth to professional levels, but Bayern's players need not possess the same level of automatism as Barcelona's
do," Kahn wrote in Bild.