Madrid, Nov 26 (IANS) Spanish football giants Real Madrid face another difficult test on Sunday in La Liga as Rafael Benitez attempts to prove he is the man to coach the side.
Real Madrid will travel to play Eibar, who are currently sixth in the table and will face the challenge of adapting to the small Ipurua Stadium, where the club with the smallest budget in La Liga have only lost once all season, reports Xinhua.
Benitez regained some credibility in the wake of Real Madrid’s 0-4 home thrashing to FC Barcelona as his side took a 4-0 lead away to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night and then proceeded to lose much of it as Shakhtar scored three late goals to leave Madrid fans with their hearts in their mouths.
A repeat performance in Eibar would only increase the pressure still further and he will be without the suspended Isco and the injured Sergio Ramos for the test.
By the time Real Madrid kick-off, Barcelona could have moved nine points clear of Benitez’s men as the Catalans kick-off Saturday’s games with a home match against Real Sociedad.
Real Sociedad, now coached by former Barcelona player and B-team boss, Eusebio Sacristan, may have gained confidence after logging their first home win of the season against Sevilla, but Barcelona are currently in supreme form as they showed against both Madrid and Roma and will be clear favourites to claim a comfortable win in front of their own fans and with Lionel Messi fit again.
Next up are Atletico Madrid, who took advantage of Real Madrid’s defeat last weekend to move into second place in the table.
After an unconvincing start to the season, Diego Simeone’s side have slowly found their feet and are once again looking like the hard to beat outfit they have been in recent years and if you add the goals being scored by Antoine Griezmann to a solid defence, that probably means bad news for an Espanyol side which itself has improved of late.
Saturday also sees an Andalusia derby in the relegation zone as Malaga, who have only scored in two games this campaign, play at home to Granada. Defeat for Malaga would almost certainly mean the end for their coach Xavi Gracia.
Las Palmas showed their improvement under Quique Setien as he continued at pace last week in Valencia and they could climb out of the bottom three with a win against Deportivo la Coruna.
Elsewhere, both Celta Vigo and Sporting Gijon need to end a run of defeats when they play in Celta’s Balaidos Stadium.
Getafe’s home game against Villarreal kicks off Sunday’s matches with Getafe another outfit in need of points at the wrong end of the table.
Athletic Club Bilbao and Rayo face up in the latter’s Vallecas Stadium with Athletic looking to recapture the form they showed before the international break broke their stride.
Sunday’s last match should provide tension as Sevilla entertain Valencia. Both sides are struggling in Europe and disappointing at home and while Sunday’s game will provide a boost for one coach, it will be a major blow for the other, so expect tension and goals in the Sanchez Pizjuan to end the week.