Spotlight on Ronaldo for Mallorca clash

Even more attention than usual will be focused on Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo when the La Liga leaders play at Real Mallorca on Saturday after his petulant reaction to whistling from disgruntled fans last weekend.

The Portuguese refused to celebrate his goal at the Bernabeu, Real's fifth in a 5-1 thrashing of Granada and his 21st of the campaign, after a section of the home support again expressed their frustration with his performance.

There appears to be a perception among some of the Real faithful that the world's most expensive player can be too selfish and that he is more concerned with personal success than collective triumph.

Coach Jose Mourinho and his team-mates have rallied behind Ronaldo and he was given a resounding vote of confidence by honorary Real president Alfredo Di Stefano in the 85-year-old's latest newspaper column published on Thursday.

"We should support him because he could not put in any more effort, he gives everything to the team," Di Stefano wrote in sports daily Marca.

"The Portuguese is an example to follow and his success is the result of a great deal of work," added the former Real player and coach.

Real can stretch their lead over second-placed Barcelona to eight points with a win in Mallorca, with the champions, who drew 1-1 at local rivals Espanyol last weekend, not playing at home against Real Betis until Sunday.

Barca's form at their Nou Camp arena has been almost impeccable, winning eight and drawing one of their nine games and scoring 39 goals without reply, but they have taken only 13 points from a possible 24 away from home.


Coach Pep Guardiola, whose side are chasing a fourth consecutive La Liga title, said on Wednesday the team's patchy performances on their travels could cost them the league.

"Away from home we don't have the numbers to be champions and we must be more ambitious," he told a news conference ahead of Barca's King's Cup last-16, second leg at Osasuna later on Thursday.

"The reliability we have at home is harder to achieve away but we're ready to fight for the remaining 63 points."

Valencia, four points behind Barca in third, host struggling Real Sociedad on Saturday, while fourth-placed Levante, the season's surprise package, play at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.