Real Madrid return to league action this afternoon against Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu after the winter break knowing that any slip up will likely spell the end for Rafa Benitez.
Los Blancos won their last outing 10-2 against Rayo Vallecano but with three defeats in their last six league games and expulsion from the Copa del Rey, the pressure has been on Benitez for some time.
Ahead of today’s game, Benitez told the press he believed their was a witch hunt against him and the club – but you get the feeling that dropping points here or at Valencia in a couple of days time will see the boss leave with Zinedine Zidane waiting in the wings.
In terms of team selection, Benitez has no new injury concerns and will be able to pick a strong side, although Sergio Ramos is a doubt with a calf problem and faces a late fitess test. The Spanish press have been calling on him to play the quintet of Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, Rodriguez and Isco – something he has yet to do this season.
Los Blancos have a good record against the visitors, who are struggling near the foot of the table – just two points above the drop zone. A brief upturn in form following the sacking of David Moyes is over as La Real have won just one in their last four outings.
Madrid will come up against three former players today – Esteban Granero, Sergio Canales and Asier Illarramendi – who returned to Anoeta last summer after failing to settle in the Spanish capital and take over from Xabi Alonso as the long term successor in the heart of the midfield.
Probable Line Ups:
Real Madrid: Navas, Danilo, Marcelo, Pepe, Varane, Casemiro, James, Modric, Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Real Sociedad: Rulli, Yurí, Martínez, Reyes, Elustondo, Illarramendi, Granero, Canales, Prieto, Vela, Agirretxe.