Madrid aims to erase dire end to 2012 vs. Sociedad
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -Battered by poor results, dressing room strife, and now injuries, Real Madrid will return from a much-needed winter break in the Spanish league to host up-and-coming Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Madrid coach Jose Mourinho set off a firestorm of criticism in Madrid's last game of 2012 by dropping Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The move backfired as Madrid lost at Malaga, leaving the defending champions 16 points adrift of leader Barcelona.
To make things worse, Madrid lost defender Pepe for a month with an ankle knock.
Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo says "we want to start this year better than the way we ended the last.''
Barcelona hosts crosstown rival Espanyol on Sunday, while second-place Atletico Madrid visits Mallorca.