Real Madrid host Huesca at the Bernabeu this Sunday as the sides resume their respective La Liga campaigns.
The European champions have little left to play for in domestic competition this season. They were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Barcelona last month and find themselves languishing 12 points behind the Catalans in the league table. Those failures were compounded by an early Champions League exit, Madrid being humbled 4-1 at home against Ajax in the last 16.
The visitors have had an equally dismal campaign and are currently rooted to the foot of the table. They are seven points off of safety and have recorded just one victory in their previous five fixtures.
Check out 90min's preview of the encounter below.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Sunday 31 March|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19:45 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Santiago Bernabeu|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Eleven Sports 1 UK|
Real are without a couple of players for the match, with Vinicius Junior and Dani Carvajal currently sidelined by injury. The 18-year-old ruptured knee ligaments at the start of the month and is likely to miss the remainder of the campaign. Meanwhile, Carvajal is struggling with a muscular problem, but could return for next week's match with Eibar.
Aside from those two, Zinedine Zidane has a full compliment of players to select from, with none of his squad suspended for the game.
Their opponents have four first-team players unavailable for the trip to the Bernabeu. Defensive trio Luisinho, Carlos Akapo and Pablo Insua all sustained serious knee injuries earlier in the year, with none of them expected to appear again this season.
Attacking midfielder Gonzalo Melero continues his recovery from a groin strain, that problem ruling him out of SUnday's encounter.
|Real Madrid||Navas; Odriozola, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Asensio.|
|Huesca||Sanatmaria; Miramon, Pulido, Mantovani, Dieguez, Ferreiro; Gallar, Herrera, Gomez; Avila, Gallego.|
Head to Head Record
This is first ever competitive meeting between the two sides at the Bernabeu, with Huesca having spent the vast majority of their history in the lower leagues of Spanish football. This is, in fact, the strugglers' debut season in La Liga, their troubles highlighting a lack of experience in the division.
When they met at Estadio El Alcoraz in December it was Los Blancos who took the points, an early Gareth Bale strike enough to see off their spirited opponents.
The Welshman arrived late into the box in the eighth minute to connect with Álvaro Odriozola's delightful clipped cross, catching a volley superbly to send the ball arrowing into the far corner.
However, Madrid failed to kick on and ultimately found themselves hanging on for the victory, a combination of Thibaut Courtois' quick reflexes and Huesca forwards misfiring helping them do so.
Real have fallen to four defeats in their last five matches at the Bernabeu in all competitions, an unacceptable record for such an illustrious club. By comparison, Zidane lost just eight of his 70 matches in charge at the stadium in his initial tenure.
They have shown signs of improvement since his return, though, securing back-to-back victories in his first two games back in the dugout.
The squad have appeared lethargic and unmotivated in recent months, that perhaps being symptomatic of their incredible success during the Frenchman's first stint as manager. There is little left for the players to achieve having won a remarkable four Champions League trophies in the last five years. As a result, many feel it is time for an overhaul of playing personnel.
Real Madrid are prepared to spend £400m on three players this summer to form a new Galácticos 😲— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 28, 2019
Huesca have lost their last two matches, going down 2-1 and 3-1 against Getafe and Alaves respectively. If they leave Sunday's game empty-handed it will be the first time they have been beaten in three consecutive fixtures under manager Francisco Rodriguez.
Here's how the pair got on in their last five matches:
|Real Madrid 2-0 Celta Vigo (16/3)||Huesca 1-3 Alaves (16/3)|
|Real Valladolid 1-4 Real Madrid (10/3)||Getafe 2-1 Huesca (9/3)|
|Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5/3)||Huesca 2-1 Sevilla (2/3)|
|Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona (02/3)||Espanyol 1-1 Huesca (22/2)|
|Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona (27/2)||Huesca 0-1 Athletic Club (18/2)|
Real may have endured a worrying few months and fallen to demoralising defeats at home to Ajax and Barça recently, but they should have more than enough firepower to see off Huesca.
The newbies' defensive fragility is demonstrated by the 47 goals they have conceded this year, the second highest in the league. The likes of Bale and Marco Asensio will be chomping at the bit, eager to test out such a porous backline.
Zidane appears to have restored some confidence in the team, with that upturn in mood likely to ensure they avoid an embarrassing loss.