Real Madrid welcome back defensive duo Pepe and Fabio Coentrao ahead of today’s game against former league leaders Real Betis.
Both men are coming back into the fold three weeks after picking up injuries in Madrid’s 1-0 defeat to the surprise package of the season so far, Levante.
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Pepe will likely replace Raul Albiol at the back after the defender fractured a cheekbone whilst training with the Spanish national team.
Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to put a frustrating Euro 2012 qualifying campaign to one side and continue to display the form which has seen him become Madrid’s top scorer so far this season.
Betis meanwhile look set to continue to start on loan Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz in attack after Ruben Castro remains to be a doubt through injury.
Real Betis manager Pepe Mel will hope that the international break can help his side rediscover the form that saw them start the season with four wins in a row.
Betis were the last team in the league to lose their 100% record and defeats since then to Levante and Getafe have seen them drop to 7th in the table.
As for Madrid, they have bounced back from their defeat to Levante with two wins and a draw. Most recently they put four past Espanyol without reply in a game which saw Gonzalo Higuaín score a hatrick and Madrid look at their irresistible best.
Three points in this one could see Madrid top the table too, leapfrogging fierce rivals Barcelona – who don’t play until Sunday – in the process. This is added motivation for the hosts.
With this in mind, Jose Mourinho’s side go into the match at the Bernabeu as favourites, although punters aren’t entirely ruling out Betis returning to winning ways.
Recent encounters between the two sides favour Madrid who won 6-1 the last time these two met in the league.
This one gets underway at 5pm this evening from the Santigao Bernabeu.
By Matthew Roulstone