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Madrid primed for last-ditch assault

Published: Friday 18 March 2005, 11.17CET
Real Madrid CF will be playing catch-up on FC Barcelona when they welcome Málaga CF to the capital this weekend.

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Published: Friday 18 March 2005, 11.17CET

Madrid primed for last-ditch assault

Real Madrid CF will be playing catch-up on FC Barcelona when they welcome Málaga CF to the capital this weekend.
By Andy Hall

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas has insisted that Real Madrid CF have not given up hope of overhauling FC Barcelona in the Primera División.

No surrender
As his side prepared to host Málaga CF at the Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday, the Spanish international said Barcelona's eleven-point lead at the top of the table was not necessarily a winning margin.

Winning form
Madrid are aiming for seven victories in their last ten games, but Casillas said: "Barcelona have a number of difficult matches ahead but we have to make sure we win all our remaining games. If we can win seven then it is not out of the question to win ten."

Deportivo trip
The first of Barça's difficult matches sees them travel to an improving RC Deportivo La Coruña on Saturday with Rafael Márquez doubtful and Ronaldinho and Deco recovering from stomach complaints. "We have home advantage so we have to make sure we take control," said Deportivo new boy Fabricio Coloccini.

Villarreal travel
There are just five points separating the third and ninth-placed teams in the Primera División, and with Villarreal, in third, in UEFA Cup action against FC Steaua Bucuresti this weekend, the fourth and fifth-placed sides can make strides.

De la Peña returns
RCD Espanyol and Real Betis Balompié are level on 45 points, two behind Villarreal, and the former will hope the return of Iván de la Peña following a month's lay-off will help them overcome Real Sociedad de Fútbol in Barcelona. Betis, meanwhile, welcome relegation-haunted Albacete Balompié.

Sevilla chance
Below Betis and Espanyol, two more clubs are tied on 43 points, with Sevilla FC looking to make up for the disappointment of UEFA Cup elimination with a win against third-from-bottom RCD Mallorca at Son Moix, while Valencia CF host giantkillers Getafe CF.

Atlético injuries
In eighth place, level on 42 points with Deportivo, Club Atlético de Madrid are hoping that injury worries do not overshadow their game at Real Zaragoza, as Jesper Grønkjær has joined Luis Perea and José Antonio García Calvo on the sick list. Completing the weekend fixtures, Athletic Club Bilbao entertain Levante UD and CD Numancia are visited by Real Racing Club Santander.

Last updated: 18/03/05 19.21CET

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