Real Madrid could be without Gareth Bale for the short trip to Vallecas to take on Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday night.
The Welshman suffered a foot injury in the 9-1 demolition of Granada on Sunday and he is a doubt for the midweek La Liga match against Paco Jemez’s side.
Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti will assess Bale’s fitness today but he said after the weekend win that he would not risk his players if they are not 100 per cent fit not that he has a full complement to select from.
“There is a problem with Bale, who received a knock on his left foot,” Ancelotti said in Tuesday’s pre-match press conference. “We will reevaluate the situation tomorrow [Wednesday] and name the starting line-up afterwards. It is not a debate between Isco and James but rather a debate about the entire squad of players, who are in full fitness at the moment.”
Bale’s knock could see Isco and James Rodriguez playing together. The Colombian produced two assists and a good performance as he returned from a two-month injury absence against Granada and could push up into Bale’s attacking role. Isco returns from a one-match ban and could slot in to replace James in the midfield three.
Madrid thumped Rayo 5-1 at the Bernabeu earlier in the season but Ancelotti is wary that Jemez’s side are enjoying perhaps their form of the season thanks to a run of four wins in their last five matches that has left them ninth in the table.
“Rayo are enjoying their best spell of the season at the moment and the league standings clearly reflect that,” acknowledged the Italian. “They have won their last four games at home. I always prefer playing against sides that close things up at the back because it means you can control the play. They will be looking to control the play and the tempo of the game tomorrow. Rayo like to have possession of the ball and we understand the difficulty this match poses.”
“We have to be aware that they will be tough opponents who have a clear playing style,” he added. “They are a dogged and well-organised unit. We need to continue with the same attitude we had against Granada, but we must be aware that it is going to be an even more difficult task.”
Barcelona have the chance to move seven points clear at the top when they host Almeria at the Camp Nou just hours before Madrid kick-off. Ancelotti knows his men have to win all nine of their remaining matches to have a chance of winning La Liga and admits the Catalans are in the driving seat.
“I’m not completely certain that winning all our games will make us champions, but that is what we have to do: give it our all and try to win all our matches,” he said. Barcelona are still in the driving seat.”