Aragones: Real Madrid can still win La Liga

Luis Aragones believes Real Madrid could still catch Barcelona at the top of La Liga despite the eight-point advantage currently held by the Blaugrana.

The defending champions, who had a poor start to the domestic season, missed their chance to reduce the gap on Sunday when they drew with Tito Vilanova’s league leaders.

“There are a lot of games for Real Madrid to recover the points they need and for a team like Madrid nothing is lost,” Aragones told O Jogo.

Barca and Los Rojiblancos both sit on 19 points in the Liga table and Aragones has backed his former club to mount a title challenge of their own.

“Atletico is stronger than in previous years,” he added.

“They can have a good season and be closer to their rivals, or even fight for the title if they can maintain this consistency.”

Aragones, who has not coached since leaving Fenerbahce in 2009, also left the door open when asked about a possible managerial comeback, saying that he remained “strong enough to return to work”.

'The truth hurts' – Pepe defends 'theatrical' comments

Kepler Pepe - Real Madrid

Kepler Pepe – Real Madrid

Real Madrid defender Pepe believes Barcelona players have reacted sourly to his claim they are theatrical when tackled because “the truth hurts”.

The Portugal centre-back had complained the Blaugrana bunch had gone to ground far too easily in Sunday’s Clasico, which finished 2-2 after two goals apiece from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 29-year-old has stood by his original comments however, and stressed he was merely reiterating what had happened in the third meeting between the two giant Spanish clubs this campaign.

“If anybody feels offended it’s because the truth hurts,” he told reporters at a press conference. “I just said what truly happened during the game.”

Barca playmaker Andres Iniesta had confessed to being “offended” by the former Porto player’s comments after the Camp Nou clash.

Pepe is with his national side ahead of their World Cup qualifier away to Russia on Friday but, is unsure whether he will be fit in time to play after suffering some discomfort in his left leg, though he has returned to training.

“Let’s see how things have progressed by tomorrow,” he added. “If all goes well, I hope to play.”

Deschamps delighted with Giroud & Benzema form

France coach Didier Deschamps has stated the importance of strikers Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema returning to form.

The former Montpellier man has endured a tough start to life with Arsenal, but the grabbed his first goal of the season in the 3-1 win at West Ham United last week.

Benzema, meanwhile, opened his account for Real Madrid this season in the recent 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano and Deschamps feels that it is vital his strikers are scoring goals.

“For their confidence is important that they have found their effectiveness,” Deschamps told reporters.

“There are times where the attackers do not score, it is only short term. When it happens in seven or eight games they are criticised, but they still score regularly.”

France entertain Japan at the Stade de France on Friday before a clash against world and European champions Spain at Vicente Calderon next Tuesday in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Premier League & European Fanview: Supporters from Arsenal, Real Madrid, AC Milan & more reflect on the season so far

With another international break upon us, now is the ideal time to assess how the ground lies for clubs across Europe’s top domestic leagues.

Chelsea currently lead Manchester City and United in what is already promising to be another scintillating Premier League season, while Barcelona have opened up an eight-point gap on rivals Real Madrid after just seven games of the new Liga campaign.

Bayern Munich are well on course to end Borussia Dortmund’s recent Bundesliga dominance, and in Serie A Juventus have maintained their unbeaten run from last season, and are currently well ahead of both Milan giants in the table.

Goal.com has sought the opinions of fans from 12 of Europe’s biggest sides, to see how the new campaign has been viewed from terraces across the continent…

PREMIER LEAGUE & EUROPEAN FANVIEWS

Iniesta: Pepe's comments are offensive

Andres Iniesta feels that Real Madrid star Pepe crossed a line when he accused the Barcelona players of diving and play-acting in the wake of Sunday’s 2-2 Clasico draw.

The Portugal international labelled Iniesta and his team-mates ‘theatrical’ after the attacking midfielder called for a penalty in the high-profile encounter, and the Spaniard is not amused with Pepe’s comments.

“Of course I am affected by what he said. Every person is entitled to have an opinion and say that a certain action was a penalty. However, it cannot go any further than that. There are boundaries,” Iniesta told Onda Cero.

“If a player speaks about you and your team-mates like this, you feel offended.

“I’m not theatrical in any way, and neither are the other guys. These comments hurt because they are a personal attack.”

Barcelona currently sit first in La Liga, holding an eight-point lead over Real Madrid.