Madrid, March 12: Crisis looms over Real Madrid's Santiago Berbeu Stadium as match-day 27 of the Spanish La Liga looms on the horizon. Although Real qualified for the last eight of the Champions League on Tuesday night, their 3-4 defeat at home to FC Schalke 04 left them clinging to the ropes and begging for the fil whistle.
That whistle when it came was greeted by a chorus of boos from the fans in the stadium and headlines filled with dark talk of crisis. They had lost against Athletic Club Bilbao and were held 1-1 draw by Villarreal at home.
That means anything less than a resounding win at home to struggling Levante UD on Sunday will see a further chorus of disapproval just a week before they travel to face FC Barcelo in the Clasico.
Luka Modric will have more game time on Sunday. Also, it will be interesting to see if under-pressure coach Carlo Ancelotti decides to rest the out-of-form striker Gareth Bale and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Barcelo could well have moved four points clear by the time Real kick off. The league leaders travel to the Basque country on Saturday to face an SD Eibar in freefall after seven straight defeats.
Eibar will say there is no better rival to get back on track against than Barcelo and the Catalans will have to dig deep on the small Ipurua pitch.
But one of the main worries will be for midfielder Javier Mascherano to avoid a booking which would see him suspended for the following week. Meanwhile Neymar returns to the side after suspension.
Both Atletico Madrid and Valencia will have thought last week that they had missed a chance to close in on the top of the table in the wake of Real's defeat. Moreover, the 1-1 draw in the Vicente Calderon Stadium favoured neither of their interests.
Valencia could move temporarily into fourth place on Friday night if they win at home against Deportivo la Coru. That would pressure Atletico who face a tricky away game against Espanyol on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday also sees Rayo Vallecano, who lost 6-1 to Barcelo last week, entertain second from bottom Grada in a game vital for both sides aims of avoiding relegation. The day ends with Bilbao taking a three-game winning run to Celta Vigo.
Almeria, still reeling from the deduction of three points, which has dropped them into the bottom three, are at home to Villarreal. The latter will make changes after Thursday's Europa League tie against Sevilla.
Sevilla will look to keep their hopes of a top four finish alive when they play at home to Elche CF.
Seventh-placed Malaga CF have the chance of qualifying for Europe and will be hopeful of all three points at home to bottom of the table Cordoba, who slipped to their sixth successive defeat on Monday.
Getafe CF bring the round of matches to an end on Monday night at home against Real Sociedad, who are yet to win at home all season. IANS