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Barcelona's start hurts Madrid's Schuster

Barcelona's start hurts Madrid's Schuster

Barcelona's best-ever league start isn't helping under-pressure Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster.
Barcelona has won nine straight to sit five points ahead of its classic rival, whose recent stumbles could see Schuster become the seventh Madrid coach to be fired in five years if it loses this weekend.
Barcelona, which has 28 points from 11 games, plays Getafe on Sunday, while defending champion Madrid hosts second-last Recreativo Huelva on Saturday.
Although Madrid backed Schuster earlier this week, it wasn't a ringing endorsement.
"It's surprising because he's a coach who's coming off a championship with Madrid and we're not even halfway into the season and there are already questions. That doesn't seem right to me," said Barcelona winger Lionel Messi. "Schuster's brought a lot to Madrid in these years, which they are already forgetting."
Injuries have been a big problem for Madrid with internationals Arjen Robben, Mahamadou Diarra, Ruben de la Red and Pepe all having missed the past few weeks.
Madrid is reportedly lining up Inter Milan striker Hernan Crespo to replace Ruud van Nistelrooy, who will likely miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery.
Madrid's woes are only being magnified by Barcelona's sublime start.
The Catalan club is unbeaten in 15 games and averaging over three goals per game under rookie coach Pep Guardiola, who has helped fans forget consecutive trophyless seasons under Frank Rijkaard.
Guardiola has focused on team building through discipline and bonding, with players sharing meals, living under curfew and paying fines for tardiness.
"In a team like Barcelona, the details keep the group united," said striker Samuel Eto'o, who leads the league with 13 goals. "I think Rijkaard gave us too much confidence."
Opponents sense something special from this Barcelona squad.
"They are above everyone else," said Sporting Gijon coach Manolo Preciado, whose team fell 6-1 to Barcelona. "The last two years' drought has done them well because sometimes when you win two league trophies you start to think you're going to win, always."
A 10th straight victory would suit Barcelona with its next matches featuring Sevilla, Valencia, Madrid and Villarreal.
Valencia and Sevilla, who both share 23 points with Madrid, meet on Saturday.
Valencia is on a three-match winless run and Sevilla has a point to prove.
"These are games that will help bring an indication to know whether we can fight for the spots at the top," said winger Diego Capel, who should return from injury for the match at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. "If we want to do something this year we need to be able to get ahead. The match against Valencia is key."
Valencia striker David Villa trails only Eto'o with 11 goals and continued his impressive scoring run for Spain against Chile on Wednesday, netting his 24th from 41 appearances to surpass Alfredo di Stefano and sit fifth on Spain's all-time scoring list. He also became the first player to score in five straight games for Spain.
Villarreal, which is second with 25 points, will also look to get over recent stumbles against Valladolid on Sunday.
The "Yellow Submarine" is unbeaten but has won only two of its last five, while 13th-ranked Valladolid is coming off victory over Madrid.
Midfielder Sebastian Eguren appears ready to return from a head injury suffered last weekend but Villarreal is without leading striker Joseba Llorente for at least a month to a muscle injury. United States striker Jozy Altidore could make an appearance with Llorente and Nihat Kahveci sidelined.
Newly promoted clubs Sporting and Numancia showed panache in victories over Valencia and Espanyol last weekend.
After a terrible start, ninth-ranked Sporting has won five of six with spirited offensive flair but comes up against Real Betis, which is also surging after two straight wins.
No. 17 Numancia meets Atletico Madrid, which has 17 points in sixth.
In Sunday's other 12th round of games, it's: Racing Santander vs. Espanyol; Deportivo La Coruna vs. Athletic Bilbao; Mallorca vs. Malaga; and last-place Osasuna looks for its first victory of the season against No. 8 Almeria.


Updated : 2021-10-26 08:45 GMT+08:00