The Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has accused teams in Spain of laying down against Barcelona, making his own team's assault on the La Liga title that more difficult.
In midweek Barcelona beat an under-strength Sporting Gijon side as their coach Manuel Preciado, with the prospect of three games in seven days, rested half his first team.
Mourinho was asked about how many points his team would need to win the league and he went straight on the attack targeting the way Sporting had done as Mick McCarthy's Wolves did last season against Manchester United.
He said: "I don't know how many points we will need but if teams are going to gift matches by putting second teams out because they think that they have no chance of winning... if a lot of teams do that, then it will be more difficult for us to win the league."
Preciado has said that he will answer Mourinho when the two men come face to face in the second week in November.
The Barça manager Pep Guardiola defended Preciado saying: "All teams deserve to be respected."
The Real Madrid coach has also taken on his players this week by refusing to give in to their petition for a later start to training sessions so they could take their children to school. The request made by the captain Iker Casillas on behalf of the squad was given short shrift by Mourinho, who has also admitted that some players do not like his insistence that the team spends the night before home games in a Madrid hotel, but says he has no intention of changing his regime.
Palermo adamant City will not take Pastore out of their parish
The Manchester City target Javier Pastore will not be leaving Palermo in the winter transfer window according to his club president Maurizio Zamparini. "He will not be leaving next June either," added Zamparini, "because in two years' time he will be worth as much as Messi". Palermo was the star as his team beat Juventus 3-1 in midweek. Inter who beat Bari 4-0 top Serie A and visit Roma today.
We can't win with the newspapers, says table-topping Portuguese
Mourinho is getting used to criticism of his table-topping team's style of play. Real travel to lowly Levante for tonight's game and Mourinho said: "If this is the coverage we get when we are top then it will better to not buy the newspapers when we are not."
One to watch
With Fernando Torres out of sorts the Liverpool man is in danger of being overtaken by Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente. The striker has three goals in four games this season and faces a Barcelona side tonight still missing the injured Lionel Messi. Barça and Bilbao, along with Real Madrid, are the only clubs never to have been relegated – play each other 27 years and one day since one Andoni Goikoetxea savaged Diego Maradona, putting him out of action for four months. Messi's ankle ligaments were damaged by Atletico Madrid's Tomas Ujfalusi but he was back in light training yesterday and could even return for Barça's Champions League trip to Russia on Wednesday.