Real Madrid will be looking to get back to winning ways in the league when relegation-threatened Malaga visit the Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon.
Los Blancos could only manage a goalless draw against neighbours Atletico last time out but are strong favourites to bounce back against the side from the Costa del Sol, having seen off Cypriot side APOEL on Tuesday evening by six goals to nil.
Forward Marco Asensio and defender Nacho will miss the Malaga game through injury and suspension, respectively, but head coach Zinedine Zidane has Sergio Ramos, Mateo Kovacic and Keylor Navas all set to return.
Navas is likely to reclaim his place in goal, while Kovacic returns from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Captain Sergio Ramos is back after breaking his nose in the Madrid derby and will wear a protective mask.
Los Galacticos will be looking to close the gap on Barcelona, which going into the matchday stands at ten points, and will be confident of picking up all three points against a side which has lost the last six games away from home without scoring a single goal.
Despite two home wins from the last two, Malaga’s dreadful defensive form, having conceded at least two goals in seven of their last eight matches, gives cause for concern. Ordinarily head coach Michel resorts to a back five for fixtures against the big boys, but injuries to Miguel Torres and Federico Ricca leave him short of options. Instead he is likely to stick with the team that beat Deportivo 3-2 last weekend, but bring in captain Jose Recio, who returns from suspension, in place of Esteban Rolon.
Despite the numbers being against his side, Michel said in his pre-match press conference: “Every team that has been to the Bernabeu this season have had chances because they’ve been clever with the ball. We will try to take the game to where we want it by defending with the ball.”
For his part, Zidane warned: “[Malaga’s] position in the table is not deserved. They have been playing well recently, won two of their last three games. All matches now are decisive for us.”