Mourinho looks to make it nine years unbeaten at home to close Barça gap
Saturday 19 February 2011
Jose Mourinho will attempt to turn up the pressure on Barcelona tonight with a win over Levante that will put Real Madrid just two points behind the leaders and extend the manager's unbeaten home run to nine years.
After Arsène Wenger's Arsenal gave Barcelona a Champions League headache in midweek, there are signs that Pep Guardiola's slim squad is struggling to cope with competitions on all three fronts ahead of their home tie against Athletic Bilbao tomorrow.
Not since succumbing 3-2 to Beira Mar in February 2002, when he was manager of Porto, has Mourinho lost a home game, winning 122 of 147 matches played and only conceding 87 goals.
Levante took a point from Real earlier in the season and are on a run of three straight wins but Mourinho's Madrid have won all 11 of their home league games so far this season.
Manchester City loanee Emmanuel Adebayor could be rested along with Alvaro Arbeloa as Mourinho leaves out players he wants in his starting line-up next Tuesday against Lyons in the Champions League. The manager has confirmed that Real Madrid have already agreed a price for the Togo striker should they decide to buy him at the end of the season. Mourinho has also praised Arbeloa, who will sits out his first game this year tomorrow.
"He never gives me any nasty surprises," said Mourinho of Arbeloa. "When he is on the pitch I know that I don't have to worry. He is usually marking the opposition's best player and they don't normally get a kick."
Barcelona will make a late decision on Carles Puyol for their game against Bilbao. He had been scheduled to return to the starting line-up, but Gerard Pique's yellow card against Arsenal has ruled him out of the Champions League second leg, and Puyol may now be given longer to recover to ensure his fitness for the return at the Nou Camp on 8 March.
In Italy, Internazionale find themselves in the same position as Real, trailing leaders Milan by five points but with the chance to bridge the gap temporarily, if they can beat Cagliari tonight. Inter have won eight of their 10 games under Leonardo and are now right back in the title race.
Gennaro Gattuso is likely to start on the bench for Milan tomorrow as they face Chievo away. Antonio Cassano is likely to return to the starting line-up.
Latest in Sport
England vs Lithuania: Roy Hodgson set to resist calls to start with Spurs striker Harry Kane
Paul Scholes: Frustrated Steven Gerrard should have started crucial game between Liverpool and Manchester United
Paul Scholes: It's amazing Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has so few caps for England
New kits for 2015/16: Have the Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona strips been leaked?
England vs Lithuania: Theo Walcott 'at risk of being left behind' in Three Lions pecking order
- 1 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Cate Blanchett loses temper during interview: 'That's your f**king question?'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest