x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Barca stay grounded

Barcelona visit Racing Santander tonight looking to maintain their 100 per cent record in the Primera Liga and return to their summit, at least for 24 hours.

Barcelona visit Racing Santander tonight looking to maintain their 100 per cent record in the Primera Liga and return to their summit, at least for 24 hours. The champions have won all three games so far including a 5-2 demolition of Atletico Madrid at the weekend. But despite their strong start, the club president Joan Laporta attempted to play down the hype surrounding the champions.

"What is really important is to maintain motivation, work ethic and to keep being humble, respecting your opponent, and trying to reach the same level as last year," he said. Elsewhere in Spain tonight, Sevilla host Mallorca. Real Madrid currently top the table ahead of Barcelona on points difference, and the coach Manuel Pellegrini turns his attention to his former club tomorrow when the free-scoring Real visit Villarreal.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in every game so far but Pellegrini thinks the team can get even better. "I don't think it is a problem of adapting to a new system. We have to improve but we aren't doing badly," he said after Sunday's 5-0 rout of Xerez. Athletic Bilbao, the only other team with nine points from three games, face Tenerife tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how long the Basque side, who beat Villarreal 3-2 on Sunday, can sustain such form up. Their coach Joaquin Caparros says he is already trying to keep his squad fresh "due to the titanic effort the players need to put into every game".

In Italy, Sampdoria lead Juventus on goal difference after four wins from four following a 4-1 victory over Siena on Sunday. Inter Milan will be without their coach Jose Mourinho for tomorrow's game with Napoli after he was sent to the stands in Sunday's 2-1 win over Cagliari. And Atalanta have appointed the former Bari manager Antonio Conte as coach after sacking Angelo Gregucci.

* With agencies