Martino was left less than impressed after experiencing defeat for the first time as Barça boss in a 2-1 reverse away to Ajax in midweek. And the Argentine’s undefeated domestic record was also ended when Iker Muniain slotted home the only goal of the game 20 minutes from time at San Mames.
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has urged his side to bounce back from their first defeat of the season to Ajax in midweek when they travel to face Athletic Club tomorrow.
Various players, along with Martino himself, criticised the Catalans’ lack of intensity and focus as they were beaten in Holland having already sealed their passage into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
And he is hoping the negative reaction to their display will ensure there will be no repeat performance in what appears to be their toughest match remaining between now and the winter break in three weeks’ time.
Gareth Bale took his tally to eight goals in his last seven games with a hat-trick as Real Madrid shrugged off the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Real Valladolid 4-0.
With the Portuguese international sidelined by a slight muscle strain, Bale proved to be decisive as he headed home the opener after Diego Marino could only parry Angel di Maria’s cross.
Three minutes later the Welshman teed up Karim Benzema to double Madrid’s lead with a wonderful in-swinging cross that the Frenchman bulleted home. Bale grabbed his second of the game when Carlos Pena could only turn Marcelo’s cross into the path of the grateful former Tottenham man to slot home.
Colombian striker Carlos Bacca gave the hosts the perfect start as he raced onto Jose Antonio Reyes’ through ball to open the scoring inside two minutes.
Betis were unlucky not to be level seven minutes before the break when Nono smashes a thunderous strike off the post.
But it turned out to be a disastrous end to the half for the visitors as defender Paulao shown a second yellow card for a foul on Reyes.
Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off with a slight thigh strain having opened the scoring and Gareth Bale was also on target as Real Madrid won 5-0 at Almeria to remain six points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
Ronaldo had taken less than three minutes to register his 14th goal in his last seven games for club and country as he flicked home Isco’s cross to give Madrid the lead.
However, he then had to be replaced by Jese Rodriguez just six minutes into the second-half as he hobbled off down the tunnel.
Luis Figo has again criticised Florentino Perez, saying that he was forced out of Real Madrid in 2005 as the club president did not like people with the “personality” to stand up to him.
Figo famously moved to Madrid from Barcelona as Florentino’s prize first signing when taking charge in summer 2000, went on to win many trophies including the 2002 Champions League, but left under a cloud in 2005 for Inter Milan as newer galacticos continued to arrive.
Real Madrid will not use the January transfer window to replace the injured Sami Khedira, with coach Carlo Ancelotti insisting he has a number of back-up players suited to the midfielder’s role.
Speaking at the launch of his new book in Madrid, Ancelotti said he is confident Real already have adequate cover within their ranks.
“We don’t have any plans to sign anyone during the winter transfer window,” he said. “We have two options. One is to use a player with a similar style and the other is to change our system.
Barcelona face a nervous wait over the fitness of Victor Valdes after he sustained a calf injury during La Roja’s shock 1-0 friendly defeat to South Africa on Tuesday.
Valdes replaced Iker Casillas at half-time but was then forced off with 13 minutes remaining after complaining of a strain in his right calf.
The Barca goalkeeper will undergo tests when he returns to his club on Wednesday, although the early diagnosis suggests he suffered a tear.
A medical statement on the Spanish football federation’s website read:
Barcelona have replaced their director of communications in an apparent attempt to improve the public perception of president Sandro Rosell.
The ousted Xavier Martin had been in the job since December 2011, but rumours about his future had circulated after TV cameras caught him and Rosell arguing loudly and publicly in the stands during Barca’s Champions League game at Milan in October.
Barca;s new director of communications is Albert Montagut, whose impressive CV includes spells with El Pais, El Periodico and El Mundo.
It’s the worst nightmare of any football manager. That one of your stars gets seriously injured on international duty. Which is exactly what has happened to Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid as their German star Sami Khedira will be to of action for at least six months after tearing both his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee in a friendly against Italy on Friday.
Khedira underwent surgery today and is expected to be out for at least six months and Germany team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt commented:
“We hope that he will be healthy again for the start of World Cup.”