Madrid looks to confirm recovery in league play
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid's win over Manchester City was just the first hurdle as the Spanish champions return to league play looking to confirm their recovery from a poor start to the season.
Madrid's memorable 3-2 victory over City on Tuesday certainly provided a morale-boost for a team in disarray domestically, already eight points behind Spanish leader Barcelona after only four games.
Madrid has a short trip across town Sunday to upstart Rayo Vallecano, where the attitudes of star player Cristiano Ronaldo and defender Sergio Ramos will be under extra scrutiny. Ramos was benched against City, while the previously "sad" Ronaldo looked happy again after scoring the late winner.
Ramos spent his off-day Wednesday training at Madrid's grounds as the Spain international reacts to Mourinho's surprise decision to field French teenager Raphael Varane in his place against the English champions.
Mourinho appears to have picked out Ramos to blame for Saturday's 1-0 loss at Sevilla when the Portuguese coach said his players quit on him.
"He's not only the second captain but one of the best central defenders in the world. (But) you have to respect every one of the coach's decisions," defender Alvaro Arbeloa said. "We know we have to change the situation in the league. We know ourselves we haven't been at our best. We agree with (Mourinho) on everything, I think we have a great relationship with him after three years together."
Barcelona welcomes winless Granada on Saturday with Lionel Messi already in excellent form, having scored two goals in Wednesday's Champions League win to take his season tally to 10.
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