Real Madrid can secure an eighth successive victory in all competitions when they travel to face Real Zaragoza on Saturday.
Madrid’s recent run has had little impact on Barcelona’s lead in the Liga standings, yet, despite the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal with Galatasaray coming up on Wednesday, assistant coach Aitor Karanka has said that his side is keen to maintain their form at the La Romareda.
“[Zaragoza] are in a difficult position, and for us it is an important match after the international break, where luckily we did not have any serious injuries as has happened on other occasions, because we are on a good run of form,” he said, according to Real Madrid’s official website.
“We want to win and carry on the run of wins we were having before this break. The team is doing very well and the decisive part of the season is starting. We have to finish like this.”
There is likely to be some rotation to the side, however. Much of the intrigue surrounds the goalkeeping situation with captain Iker Casillas now back in training. Yet Diego Lopez looks set to continue between the sticks for at least the time being with Karanka stating that Casillas is not yet ready for a return to action.
“He was cleared by the doctors some time ago, but he still is not ready to play as he is not one hundred per cent match fit,” he explained. “When he is one hundred per cent, he will be ready to play, but he is the goal keeper which makes it more difficult.”
Madrid’s recent run contrasts sharply with that of a Zaragoza side that has gone 10 games without a victory in La Liga. Manolo Jimenez’s side have dropped to within two points of the relegation zone, but the coach will be boosted by the return of midfielder Apono against Madrid.
Real Zaragoza (probable)
D: Sapunaru, Loovens, Gonzalez, Abraham
M: Apono, Movilla
Rodriguez, Romaric, Montanes
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo
M: Essien, Modric
Callejon, Ozil, Ronaldo
Prediction: For Real Madrid, La Liga has long since been playing second fiddle to the quest to claim a 10th European Cup and Jose Mourinho is likely to rest several players ahead of the meeting with Galatasaray.
That decision is unlikely to prove costly, though, against a Zaragoza side on a terrible run of form and that has the worst home record in the league this season.
Real Zaragoza 0-2 Real Madrid
Where to watch: The Liga encounter will kick-off at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.