Real Madrid will be looking to return to winning ways in Spain’s top flight when they make the trip to Estadio de Vallecas on Monday evening to take on Rayo Vallecano.
La Liga leaders Los Blancos were held to a 1-1 draw by Girona in the league last weekend, while Rayo recorded an impressive 1-0 victory over Sevilla to move them into ninth position in the table.
Rayo are bidding to make it back-to-back seasons in Spain’s top flight for the first time since 2016, and the early indications are that the team will be more than good enough to stay away from a relegation battle during the 2022-23 campaign.
Los Franjirrojos have won five, drawn three and lost four of their 12 league games this season to collect 18 points, which has left them in ninth position in the table.
Rayo will bring a four-game unbeaten run into this contest, meanwhile, which has included victories in their last two fixtures at home to Cadiz and away to Sevilla.
Indeed, Andoni Iraola’s side thumped Cadiz 5-1 in front of their own supporters on October 22 before recording a 1-0 victory over Sevilla at Estadio Ramon, with Alvaro Garcia netting the only goal of the contest.
Rayo will now be looking to record a third straight league victory on Monday night, but they lost both La Liga fixtures with Los Blancos during the 2021-22 campaign, including a 1-0 defeat at Estadio de Vallecas.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, were held to a 1-1 draw by Girona in the league last weekend, but the result was enough to move the champions back to the top of the table ahead of Barcelona.
As it stands, the gap from first to second is one point, but Barcelona could be top by the time that this match kicks off, with the Catalan outfit in action against Almeria on Saturday night.
Los Blancos will enter this match off the back of a win, though, as they thumped Celtic 5-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday evening to secure first position in their section.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side will again be looking to do a La Liga and Champions League double this term, and the capital giants will be bidding to sign off for the winter break with league wins over Rayo and Cadiz.
Real Madrid will then not be back in action until December 30 against Real Valladolid, and it will be fascinating to see what develops for the Spanish and European champions in the second half of the campaign.
As mentioned, Los Blancos beat Rayo in both league games between the two sides last term, but they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Estadio de Vallecas in April 2019, with Adri Embarba’s penalty securing all three points for Los Franjirrojos.
Rayo will again be missing Andres Martin due to a shoulder problem, while Jose Angel Pozo is also out and Raul de Tomas is still unregistered, but Radamel Falcao has a chance of recovering from a muscular problem.
The home side will also be boosted by the returns of Randy Nteka and Oscar Trejo following their suspensions last time out, and the latter could come into the starting XI.
Trejo for Unai Lopez might be the only change from the side that took to the field for the first whistle against Sevilla, with Sergio Camello again set to lead the attack here.
As for Real Madrid, Aurelien Tchouameni and Eden Hazard both missed out against Celtic in the Champions League, but the pair are now back in training and have been named in the squad for this match.
Tchouameni is expected to come back into the side, with Toni Kroos out through suspension, which could also open the door for Eduardo Camavinga to come into the midfield.
Karim Benzema is unavailable due to a muscular issue, though, which should see Rodrygo play through the middle.
Antonio Rudiger has also been ruled out of the contest through injury, so the team’s first-choice back four of Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, David Alaba and Ferland Mendy should take to the field.
Rayo Vallecano possible starting lineup:
Dimitrievski; Balliu, Lejeune, Catena, F Garcia; Comesana, Valentin; Palazon, Trejo, A Garcia; Camello
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Tchouameni, Camavinga; Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius