Real encounter target Llorente

Published Nov. 19, 2010 11:49 a.m. EST

Real Madrid come face to face with reported striker target Fernando Llorente when his Athletic Bilbao side arrive at the Bernabeu this weekend.

Among them are Madrid, although any side hoping to tempt Athletic to trade in their prized asset may get short shrift from the Basque outfit.

Club president Fernando Garcia Macua said: "I don't want to have 36million euros in the bank, I want to compete. I want Llorente to be at Athletic in 10 years' time."

Athletic coach Joaquin Caparros, meanwhile, told EFE: "If a team puts up the quantity that they have to and if it's what the player wants, Athletic are not going to be able to keep him. (But) Fernando is very, very happy at Athletic."


Regardless of Llorente's fine form this season, Athletic will still be firm underdogs heading into Saturday's match against a Madrid side who have been in stunning form under new coach Jose Mourinho.

Not only are Madrid still unbeaten under the Portuguese, with 13 wins from 17 competitive games, but they are a point clear at the top of the Primera Division standings and through to the last 16 of both the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

Madrid also boast the most prolific attack (28 goals scored) and most miserly defence (five conceded) in La Liga, while Cristiano Ronaldo is the leading individual goalscorer in the division with 11 goals.

Madrid, for whom Mourinho will serve the second of his two-match touchline ban this weekend, will be especially keen to beat Athletic as it will ensure they head to the Nou Camp for 'El Clasico' the following week at the top of the Primera Division standings.

Madrid director and former playing legend Emilio Butragueno said: "Being top heading into the Camp Nou can be encouraging. The league will not be over after the Barcelona match, although last year the two games (between Madrid and Barca) virtually decided La Liga."

There is already a gap starting to develop between the big two and the rest of the pack, and that could increase in the 12th round of action as third-placed Villarreal - who are five points behind Barca - meet local rivals Valencia, who are three points further adrift in fourth place.

Villarreal playmaker Cani, whose side lost 3-1 to Barca last weekend, said: "It's a good opportunity for us to continue at the top and put distance between ourselves and Valencia."

On Sunday, Sevilla coach Gregorio Manzano faces his former club Real Mallorca at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan while Espanyol look to make it six home wins out of six when they host Hercules.

Also, Atletico Madrid go to Real Sociedad, Osasuna meet Sporting Gijon, Racing Santander are at second-bottom Levante and Malaga, who have won their opening two games under new coach Manuel Pellegrini, take on another improving side in Deportivo La Coruna.

On Monday night, struggling Real Zaragoza will be under the guidance of former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre for their clash with Getafe.

Aguirre was unveiled by Zaragoza on Thursday as the replacement for the sacked Jose Aurelio Gay, who left with the club rooted to the bottom of the table and out of the Copa del Rey.