There are two more rounds of La Liga before Real Madrid travel to the Nou Camp for the first El Clasico of the season. Barcelona have started well under the new coach, Tito Vilanova, and are eight points ahead of the champions, Madrid. Jose Mourinho knows, and will be drilling it in to the players, that it is vitally important that Madrid win these next two matches.
First and foremost it is good for the confidence and form of the team, who got a massive boost with the late win against Manchester City. Secondly, eight points is already a big gap and it cannot be allowed to widen. Thirdly, if we can narrow the gap before the game against Barcelona, it will put the pressure back on to Vilanova’s men.
Barcelona have a home tie tomorrow against Granada, followed by an away game at Sevilla. They also have a small crisis in defence, with both first choice centre backs out through injury. Carlos Puyol is not likely to be ready before the Clasico whereas Gerard Pique stands a reasonable chance. The Catalan side could conceivably drop some points in these two games, meaning that a Madrid win on the 7th of October could see the gap almost gone.
First up for Madrid is a trip to play Rayo Vallecano on Sunday. Traditionally known as the Giant Killers, they have not beaten Real in 15 years. Mourinho has a full strength squad to pick from and, as long as the players are focused, should collect all three points. The next game is at home to Deportivo La Coruna and, although both sides are currently above Madrid in La Liga, anything less than two wins would be unacceptable and give Mourinho a serious headache in his title defence.