Second-placed Real Madrid will face sixth-placed Rayo Vallecano at the Santiago Bernabeu La Liga stadium on Saturday at 21:00 GMT.
The Blancos are second in the La Liga standings with 24 points, one behind leaders Real Sociedad with 25 points, despite having played one game less than the leaders.
Rayo Vallecano have started the season well but face one of the title favorites in Spain which means a tough afternoon is in store for Los Franjirrojos.
The story is against Rayo Vallecano
The last time these teams met, in April 2019, Rayo Vallecano scored a memorable 1-0 win with Adri Embarba’s penalty the difference.
There is a huge gap between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid in terms of stature and pedigree, but only miles separate the two clubs in terms of distance.
In their return to the top flight, Rayo Vallecano made great strides with a solid start to the season as they tried to stay in La Liga.
The story is against Rayo in this match as they haven’t won at the Bernabeu since 1996, with Los Blancos scoring wins in 10 out of 11 matches between the two at this legendary venue.
Real Madrid’s midweek exercises will have an impact
After playing Wednesday in the Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk, Carlo Ancelotti’s men will have a quick turnover to prepare for the match on Saturday night.
The Blancos cannot afford to lose points against Rayo Vallecano at home with the La Liga battle heating up: the waiting of the faithful inside the Bernabeu and the hierarchy at Real Madrid will be three points to keep up with the top of the league table.
With just four points separating the two teams, Andoni Iraola’s men will not lack confidence and trust when they enter the Santiago Bernabeu pitch.
The form of Los Blancos in La Liga was uneven. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have won three, drew two and lost one in the last six outings. At the top of the La Liga standings are Sevilla with four wins, one draw and one defeat in the last six days.
Leaders Real Sociedad won three and drew three. This shows that Los Blancos need to increase their consistency in results to have a chance to climb to the top of the standings and fight reigning champions Atletico Madrid.
Los Franjirrojos were impressive in their start of life in the top flight for a newly promoted team. In the last six games, Andoni Iraola’s men have achieved three wins, one draw and two defeats.
This run of form was enough to propel them into sixth place, away from relegation positions, and pushing for the top half of La Liga.
Rayo Vallecano’s away form hasn’t been particularly impressive, with two defeats, one draw and one win in their last four away games.
Carlo Ancelotti will have to choose the starting eleven from a squad without Federico Valverde, injured since 25 Octoberns, Mariano Diaz, who had a nose operation on October 31stns, and Rodrygo, who has been out for a hamstring since Oct. 31ns. These players are unlikely to be able to face Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
Dani Ceballos will also be missing in the match against Andoni Iraola’s men. He continues to recover from an ankle injury he has had since 22 Julyns, with the return date scheduled for the midfielder around mid-November.
Together with midweek Champions League efforts against Shakhtar Donetsk, Ancelotti will have to find a delicate balance to be struck between the players ‘”recovery” and the hosts’ need to choose a strong team to win the three points.
Andoni Iraola will only have to worry about Martin Merquelanz as the only absentee for his selection at the Bernabeu.
The rest of the team are in good health and have had a full week to prepare for this outing, even though Real Madrid had a major midweek Champions League match.
Possible initial formations
- Courteous; Marcelo, D. Alaba, E. Militao, L. Vazquez; T. Kroos, Casemiro, L. Modric; V. Junior, K. Benzema, Rodrygo.
- Dimitrievski; I. Balliu, M. Maras, A. Catena Marugan, F. Garcia; S. Comesana, OV Martin Luengo; I. Palazon, U. Lopez, A. Garcia; R. Falcao
Players to watch
Vinicius Junior is increasingly becoming the most influential player under Carlo Ancelotti. He was decisive once again in the match against Elche, scoring a crucial double to give Los Blancos a 2-1 victory.
Ancelotti hopes Vinicius will maintain his good form, especially with the well-documented injury problems Hazard has faced since signing for Real Madrid.
He is a dangerous man with his pace and flair for goals, and he should be decisive this weekend for Los Blancos as well.
Radamel Falcao has scored four goals in his first seven games with Rayo Vallecano, who have made an impressive return to the Spanish top flight.
In the recent 1-0 triumph over Barcelona, Falcao was the hero of Los Franjirrojos; he will be the main danger for Andoni Iraola’s men who try to go against history and win at the Bernabeu.
In December 2015, Real Madrid beat Rayo Vallecano 10-2; the biggest wins ever recorded for Los Blancos. Expect Madrid to start the match up front right away as they prepare to score the goal early on.
Rayo Vallecano will be looking to absorb the pressure, maintain some orderly possession and try to create some chances against the Real Madrid rearguard.
But Real Madrid have enough quality and momentum to take all three points of this match.
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