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Preview: Cordoba eye Real Madrid scalp after 44-year wait

AFP , Saturday 24 Jan 2015
Real Madrid
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, third right, celebrates his goal with team mates during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Getafe and Real Madrid at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015 (Photo: AP)
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Cordoba play host to Real Madrid on Saturday for the first time in 44 years hoping to continue a fine start to 2015.

The Andalusians started the new year firmly rooted in the relegation zone following a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Barcelona after which boss Miroslav Djukic slammed his players' lack of fight.

However, the Serbian has got the reaction he wanted with a run of seven points from nine lifting them up to 14th.

"It is not a different week, we just need to work hard and do everything we can to get something positive from the game," Algerian forward Nabil Ghilas said on Thursday.

"I hope that Real Madrid will attack a lot and we can try to take advantage on the counter-attack.

"The fans are always with us no matter who the opponent is. I love the fans, what ever the result they support us."

Madrid have enjoyed a free midweek having been dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 and added teenage sensation Martin Odegaard to their star-laden squad.

However, the 16-year-old Norwegian is expected to only feature for the club's reserve side, Real Madrid Castilla, for the rest of the season under the orders of French legend Zinedine Zidane.

Pepe's continued absence through injury means another Frenchman Rafael Varane will maintain his place alongside Sergio Ramos in defence as Carlo Ancelotti is expected to name the same side that beat Getafe 3-0 last weekend.

Elche will also have their sights set on an unlikely giant-killing when they host Barcelona at the Martinez Valero.

A 0-0 draw between the sides in the penultimate game of the campaign last season damaged Barca's title challenge as they lost out on the last day of the season to Atletico Madrid.

However, the Catalans gained some measure of revenge with a 9-0 aggregate thrashing of Elche in the Cup earlier this month, which included a 4-0 away win without any of Barca's star names.

Lionel Messi scored for the sixth time in his last four games as Barca edged the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final, first leg against Atletico in midweek.

The Argentine is sure to start, but Luis Enrique may be tempted into making a few changes with Wednesday's second leg at the Vicente Calderon in mind.

Atletico are in need of the points to consolidate third spot when they host neighbours Rayo Vallecano to the Calderon later on Saturday.

Los Rojiblancos' chances of retaining their title look slim as they sit four points off city rivals Real having also played a game more.

And the fine form showed by Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal in the first half of the season means Champions League football is by no means assured for Diego Simeone's men.

The game of the weekend sees two of those Champions League hopefuls go head-to-head as Valencia host Sevilla on Sunday night.

Sevilla hold a one point advantage over Los Che in fourth and have a game in hand, but Valencia have already proven their ability to deliver on the big occasion at Mestalla this season with wins over both the Madrid giants.

Villarreal have the chance to put the pressure on Valencia and Sevilla 24 hours earlier should they extend their 16-game unbeaten run stretching back to November when Levante visit El Madrigal.

Meanwhile, David Moyes goes in search of just his third La Liga win in charge of Real Sociedad when they host high-flying Eibar in a Basque derby.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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