Real under pressure to deliver

MADRID - Real Madrid's faltering start to 2010 has put the spotlight on Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema ahead of the visit of lowly Malaga in La Liga on Sunday.

MADRID - Real Madrid's faltering start to 2010 has put the spotlight on Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema ahead of the visit of lowly Malaga in La Liga on Sunday.

Real fired in 16 goals in the four matches leading into the winter break, but they have run into a barren patch.

A goalless draw away to Osasuna, a 2-0 home win over Real Mallorca and last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao have seen second-placed Real slip five points behind unbeaten leaders Barcelona.

"We create a lot of chances but we just lack a little luck," Real defender Sergio Ramos told sports daily Marca.

Top scorer Gonzalo Higuain is injured, Ronaldo has not scored since last month, while the contributions of Kaka and Benzema have been under the microscope in the media.

A money-spinning midweek friendly in Albania on Wednesday might have helped boost Kaka and Benzema's confidence after both scored in the 2-1 win over Gramozi Erseke. Real will be defending their perfect home record against a Malaga side lying one point above the relegation places. But their visitors, who have yet to win away, have not lost a game in the league since November 1. - Reuters

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