Gracia “excited” to face Real Madrid challenge

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Malaga coach Javi Gracia admits a tough challenge lies in wait for his side against Real Madrid but that he is excited about going to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid are big favourites to keep the Liga title race alive with three points against the Costa del Sol club and Gracia is well aware that the odds are stacked against his side.

He is confident chances will come his side’s way, however, and, like at Barcelona in his side’s shock 1-0 victory earlier this season, he hopes they can take them.

“We’ll be going into the game with high hopes even if the statistics paint a picture which could appear a little demoralising,” he told AS.com. “We’re excited and we’ll try to exploit any chances we get. I know that we will get opportunities and we’ll be trying to capitalise on them.”

Malaga pushed Madrid all the way on home soil but ended up with nothing to show for their efforts. Gracia says things have improved for his men of late, however. “Everything that we’ve done this season is now starting to pay off and we did put in a decent display against Madrid when we played them at home, despite losing the match,” he said.

Karim Benzema will be absent for Madrid but the Malaga coach does not expect that to make a whole lot of difference. “Whoever is out for them, a quality player is waiting reserve to fill the vacancy,” he said. “We’re talking about a world class side – one who we will be playing at a stadium where few teams pick up points.”

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