Deportivo desperate to avoid Real defeat

Real Madrid will be confident of continuing their recent upturn in form but must be careful not to overlook relegation-battling Deportivo La Coruna.

 Pizzi, Deportivo La Coruna

Madrid will head to the northern coast of Spain in search of a third straight Primera Division win but the fixture comes just days before their Copa del Rey meeting with Barcelona while the second leg of their Champions League tie against Manchester United is also looming.

Those two fixtures seem to be gaining far more attention than the match against lowly Depor, which barely warranted a mention from several players who spoke at the opening of a new club shop this week.

That is perhaps understandable given that the Copa del Rey and Champions League retain hope of silverware for Madrid while the league is well beyond them by now, but their poor recent away form - they have won just one of six away games in all competitions - means they cannot afford complacency.

Deportivo coach Fernando Vazquez made no secret of how he expects the game to go, admitting he is not counting on taking anything from the fixture, but with his side rock bottom and desperately chasing every point to close the eight-point gap to safety, they have the potential to cause an upset.

"Madrid are coming to play against the bottom team," he said. "They are going to say, 'We cannot lose to the bottom team'. It will be extra motivation for them.

"To draw or win would be a dream and would help us enormously, but it is not something we are counting on. This is not a game where the result is the most important thing, although, if we succeed, we will be proud."

Depor's porous defence, which has conceded 54 goals in 24 league matches, will at least be able to welcome back Carlos Marchena following suspension, while left-back Ayoze is available for the first time since December after a thigh problem.

However, Aythami (hamstring), Laure (groin) and Manuel Pablo (suspension) remain sidelined.

Jose Mourinho is expected to shuffle the Madrid pack with one eye on the first leg against Barcelona on Tuesday.

Alvaro Arbeloa, Luka Modric and Gonzalo Higuain are all back from suspension to boost the numbers, but Sergio Ramos is banned.



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