Real Madrid faces final rehearsal before PSG showdown

19 points behind Barcelona (even if with a match in hand), Champions League presents Real Madrid's only chance of a trophy this season.

Real Madrid is tipped to rediscover its form with the resumption of the Champions League, a competition which it has won more than any other club.   -  AFP

Just days before Paris Saint-Germain touches down in the Spanish capital, Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid has the chance to boost its fragile confidence when it faces Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday.

The reigning European champion has been shipping a worrying number of goals in the build-up to its Champions League last-16 showdown with the likes of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.

Zidane's side has kept just one clean sheet in its last eight outings, and could pay a heavy price for any goals conceded against the French giant in next Wednesday's match at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Read: PSG favourite against Madrid, says Xavi

"It shows that we need to work even harder. That's football -- whoever your opponents they are there to make things difficult for you," said Zidane after last week's disappointing 2-2 draw at Levante.

That result left Madrid fourth in the table, a point behind Valencia in third but with a game in hand.

Real Sociedad lies in the lower half of the table but it has scored goals for fun -- witness a 5-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna last weekend.

It also has one of the worst defensive records in Spain, so Cristiano Ronaldo -- who turned 33 this week -- will hope to fill his boots along with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

Zidane's side is still 19 points behind leader Barcelona, which remains unbeaten, but the Frenchman refuses to completely give up on a successful La Liga title defence, publicly at least.

"I am always going to say that the league is not over. There are a lot of points to play for, but we dropped two in a game we were controlling," he said of last week's game, when Levante twice came from behind to draw.

"We needed to make it three straight wins and we couldn't do it."

Barcelona has what looks like a straightforward home meeting with mid-table Getafe on Sunday, fresh from securing its place in the Copa del Rey final by beating Valencia on Thursday.

Read: Coutinho on the score sheet as Barcelona reaches Copa del Rey final

The Catalan club does not face Chelsea in its Champions League last-16 tie until February 20, so can focus on further consolidating its nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid at the summit of La Liga.

Atletico visits bottom club Malaga on Saturday, while third-placed Valencia hosts local rival Levante on Sunday having suffered six consecutive losses in all competitions.

Man to watch: Clarence Seedorf

The former Dutch international, and ex-Real Madrid midfielder, Clarence Seedorf, will take charge of Deportivo for the first time when it takes on Real Betis at Riazor on Monday.

Seedorf was appointed by the Galician side at the beginning of this week after Cristobal Parralo was sacked in the wake of the 5-0 defeat at Anoeta that left the club in the relegation zone.

Seedorf, 41, is Depor's third coach of the season -- he has only had two previous short and unsuccessful spells as a coach, at AC Milan in 2014 and then at Shenzhen in the Chinese second division from July to December 2016.

There has been scepticism about his appointment, but Seedorf believes a certain rookie coach in La Liga has shown the way to go.

"You need to believe in young people, in the new generation. Zidane is an example. He might have had less experience than me when he started at Madrid and look what he has done," he said at his unveiling.

Fixtures (all kick-offs GMT)


Athletic Bilbao v Las Palmas (2000)


Villarreal v Alaves (1200), Malaga v Atletico (1515), Leganes v Eibar (1730), Real Madrid v Real Sociedad (1945)


Sevilla v Girona (1100), Barcelona v Getafe (1515), Celta Vigo v Espanyol (1730), Valencia v Levante (1945)


Deportivo v Betis (2000)

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