England striker Michael Owen may be handed
a rare start for Real Madrid on Saturday after Brazilian World Cup
winner Ronaldo returned from his high-profile Valentine's Day party in
Paris with an injured toe.
Real coach Wanderley Luxemburgo was already fuming because Ronaldo, who
staged a lavish party for his model girlfriend Daniela Cicarelli at
Chantilly on Monday, arrived back in Spain late.
Luckily for Real, Owen, who has eight goals to his name this season, is
waiting in the wings should the three-times World Player of the Year
fail to be fit in time for the visit of Athletic Bibao on Saturday.
Speculation over the future of Owen has not stopped since the former
Liverpool player suggested to British newspaper reporters last week that
he was prepared to leave Real in the summer if he did not get to play
Owen has since tried to smooth over the situation by suggesting he is
happy at Real after all, and starting against the Basque visitors may
temporarily ease the pressure on all parties.
Equally happy to see Owen starting will be the Real supporters.
Several banners among the Santiago Bernabeu spectators two weeks ago
proclaimed, 'Owen -- titular' which broadly translates as Owen Must
Owen pressed his claims by getting the crucial equaliser in Real's 2-1
win at Real Zaragoza last Sunday, a header with his first touch of the
game and after only being on the field three minutes.
Regardless of who is the target man, Real are on a high at the moment,
having won all their seven league games since Luxemburgo took over in
Real are still in second place though, with 54 points from their 23
games but still four points behind season-long league leaders Barcelona.