Queiroz calls on Madrid players to avoid upset against Mallorca

Mallorca's nncounter with the Primera Liga leaders, Real Madrid, tomorrow may produce a surprise result if the last three matches between the sides are any indication.

A year ago, Madrid trounced Mallorca 5-1 on their visit to the Son Moix Stadium. But five months later, the Mediterranean island side won by the same score at the Bernabeu in Madrid's first home league defeat for two-and-a-half years. Mallorca also gained a crushing 4-0 home win over Madrid in the Spanish Cup quarter-final and went on to lift the trophy.

Madrid have taken 13 points from five games and lead by two from Valencia. But their coach, Carlos Queiroz, has called on his players to make a special effort to avoid an upset. "Maintaining our lead over Valencia is a Christmas present we would like to enjoy. We have made a lot of sacrifice and used up a lot of energy. It would be a shame if we wasted it," he said.

Valencia, unbeaten in five matches, will leapfrog Madrid into first place for 24 hours at least if they beat Sevilla today in a fixture they have not lost for nine seasons. Third-placed Deportivo La Coruña expect to bounce back from last weekend's defeat by Madrid against the bottom side, Espanyol, tomorrow.

The Serie A leaders, Roma, should claim their 11th win of their unbeaten season against next-to-bottom Empoli today. Fabio Capello's team lead by three points from Milan but the European champions have a game in hand, having postponed last weekend's meeting with Siena because of the Intercontinental Cup final against Boca Juniors in Japan.

Tomorrow, Milan take on Udinese, who have a tradition of good performances at San Siro but should not dent the home side's unbeaten record.

Juventus, who revived their title chances with a 4-0 thrashing of Parma last Sunday following two consecutive league defeats, are at Lecce.

In France the leaders, Monaco, should maintain a healthy lead by winning at Rennes today.

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