Mourinho must entertain gallery on home debut

MADRID - Jose Mourinho could experience the famous impatience of the Bernabeu on his home La Liga debut with Real Madrid, if victory is not forthcoming against Osasuna on Saturday.

His opening day 0-0 draw at Real Mallorca two weeks ago was something of a comedown after all the pre-season build up.

While his side struggled, champions Barcelona purred to a 4-0 victory at Racing Santander, opening up an immediate two-point lead in the standings.

It may be premature to talk about points tallies after one round of matches, but both clubs broke records to finish first and second last year, and Barca only dropped 15 points through the entire campaign.

Mourinho preached a message of patience after the Mallorca game, saying he was a coach not a magician, but that usually falls on deaf ears in the Spanish capital, where two years in Barca's shadow without silverware really hurts.

He will have had little time to iron out the inconsistencies he identified in Mallorca, with 12 of his players having been away on international duty, and he also needs to consider the return to Champions League action next week.


Cristiano Ronaldo is close to a recovering from his ankle injury as is his Portuguese compatriot Pepe, but neither are expected to feature on Saturday.

Sergio Ramos and Ricardo Carvalho will probably operate as a make-shift centre-back pairing again.

Barcelona are at home to promoted Hercules, who could hand deadline day signing David Trezeguet his La Liga debut at the Nou Camp on Saturday.

Barca defender Carles Puyol is still recovering from a muscle injury and is unlikely to be available.

In Saturday's late game, Atletico Madrid have the chance to further build the idea that they could represent a third challenger for the league title.

The Europa League winners received a huge boost to confidence with their European Super Cup win over Inter Milan two weeks ago and followed that up with a scintillating 4-0 thrashing of Sporting Gijon.

Strengthened in defence, and with Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero looking in fine form they will, however, have a tough task at the traditionally hostile San Mames, where they take on an abrasive and hard-running Athletic Bilbao.

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