MADRID — When noontime Sunday matches were introduced in the Spanish Liga last season, few people expected that giants Barcelona or Real Madrid would play at that time.
The idea behind the noon kick-offs was to promote La Liga in Asia, by playing at a time that was comfortable for television viewers in the Far East.
Asian television channels have been asking to see Barca or Real at that time, and now Real are the first in their home game with Osasuna.
“It will be strange to see the Estadio Bernabeu packed at lunchtime . . . It will be an odd experience for everyone,” said Radio Marca.
Jose Mourinho’s team are in devastating form, scoring goals almost at will and conceding few. On Wednesday they won in Lyon for the first time in the Champions League, with Cristiano Ronaldo reaching the total of 100 goals in white in 105 games in the 2-0 victory.
“The most important thing is that my goals help the team to win … We are playing well now and enjoying every match,” the Portuguese striker said.
Real are top of the league with 25 points from 10 games, one point more than Barcelona.
Osasuna, for their part, are eighth. They will go to Madrid without suspended striker Alvaro Cejudo, and without injury victims Sergio Ferandez, Marc Bertran and Roversio.
Barcelona are at Athletic Bilbao later tomorrow without Pedro. However, the little winger is now their only injury victim as Alexis Sanchez, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol have all recovered from their muscle injuries.
Bilbao, by contrast, have no less than 10 players doubtful through injury. In addition, they may be tired after Thursday’s Europa League trip to Salzburg.
Tomorrow’s other games are: Zaragoza v Sporting Gijon, Getafe v Atletico Madrid, Rayo Vallecano v Real Sociedad, Granada v Racing Santander and Espanyol v Villarreal.
Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido has his head on the chopping block after Wednesday’s 3-0 meltdown at home to Manchester City.
The 11th round of games will kick off today with a fascinating derby between Levante and Valencia. Just for once, Levante are favourites after making a sensational start.
They are in third place, two points behind Real and one place above Valencia. “This club has been in the shadow of Valencia for too long,” said Levante captain Sergio Ballesteros. “They are a good team, but we will cause them a few problems.”
Also today, Mallorca host fifth-placed Sevilla and Real Betis will take on ambitious Malaga, who are eighth.