Real Madrid visit Malaga tonight for what could a crucial game in the race for La Liga. A win for Los Blancos would see them move six points clear of Atletico de Madrid, who play immediately afterwards, and seven clear of Barcelona, who play tomorrow.
Three points would ensure Carlo Ancelotti’s men go into next weeks Clasico fixture as league leaders, and would also pile the pressure on the other two to pick up wins.
They come up against a side sitting in mid table in La Liga with 29 points from their 27 games. Because of financial difficulties in recent years, Malaga have had to let go of some of their biggest stars – Isco and Santi Cazorla to name a couple. But they still have some dangerous players in their ranks.
The last time these two met, Los Blancos won 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero put in a magnificent performance, and Madrid will have to be at their best to get past him again today.
In terms of team news, Madrid will have to have a reshuffle at the back with Sergio Ramos missing through suspension. Alvaro Arbeloa is on the long-term injury list, but the back line should be boosted by the return of Daniel Carvajal who has overcome a hip problem. Isco could be in line for a start against his former teammates as Angel di Maria is a yellow card away from suspension and may not be risked with the Clasico in mind.
Malaga boss Bernd Schuster, formerly in charge at Real Madrid, has his own problems to deal with in defence. Full back Jesus Gamez is suspended for the clash while centre half Ferreira is also out with an injury. Midfielder Darder also misses out through suspension.
Malaga (4-2-3-1): Caballero; Angeleri, Sanchez, Wellington, Antunes; Camacho, Tissone; Samuel, Duda, Portilo; Santa Cruz
Real Madrid: (4-3-3): Lopez; Carvajal, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; Alonso, Modric, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo;