Madrid, April 28: Real Madrid face what should be a comfortable game on Wednesday when they play at home to relegation-haunted Almeria.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side will kick off knowing what title rivals, FC Barcelo, who begin the midweek round of matches on Tuesday at home to Getafe, have done and depending on Barca’s result they will be either two, three or five points behind the league leaders.
Almeria have improved since the arrival of Sergi Barjuan as first team coach and two home wins have lifted them out of the relegation zone, although the club still has to await the outcome of a decision by FIFA to punish them with a sanction of three points for the non-payment for a player in 2010.
That affair looks likely to drag on into the close season and confuse the relegation issue in the run in to the end of the season for Almeria and their rivals in the battle to avoid the drop.
On paper it looks to be a straightforward match for Real Madrid, who will still be without the injured Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema and who have Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal both suspended for the game after completing a cycle of bookings during Sunday’s win away to Celta Vigo.
Benzema’s absence will allow Javier Herndez to continue in the team and the Mexican is repaying the late chance he has been given to show his talents with key goals, two in Vigo and the winning goal against Atletico Madrid in Vigo.
With a much tougher game in Seville ahead of the first leg of the Champions League semi-fil against Juventus, rotations are very much the policy for Ancelotti and Keylor vas could have a chance of playing in goal, while Jese Rodriguez, Fabio Coentrao and Alvaro Arbeloa all get time on the pitch.
Other matches played on Wednesday are Celta against Malaga, Eibar - Sevilla, who need to win in order to continue their challenge for fourth place, Elche - Deportivo la Coru, which is a key battle to avoid the drop, and Villarreal - Atletico Madrid with Atletico aiming to cling on to third place against a side whose form has dropped in recent weeks. IANS