Madrid, Jan 5 (IANS) Real Madrid will again look up to their impressive home record to stand up to the pressure and remain in the race for the Spanish La Liga football title when they take on struggling Celta Vigo Monday.
Real Madrid have only lost one home game all season, to Atletico Madrid, and defeat to Celta, unlikely as it may sound, would leave them eight points behind their city rivals, who won their game in Malaga Saturday.
With Barcelona likely to take all three points from their match at home to Elche on Sunday, that again piles the pressure on Carlo Ancelotti’s side, reports Xinhua.
The game will see Cristiano Ronaldo make his first appearance in the Santiago Bernabeu since November, after his thigh injury saw him miss a couple of matches and it is likely the Portuguese ace will be desperate to score at least one goal to be able to dedicate to the memory of his countryman, Eusebio, who passed away Sunday morning.
While Ronaldo is assured of a place in the Madrid starting line-up, there are still doubts over Gareth Bale, who has been struggling with a calf problem since mid-December. Bale took no part in Thursday’s friendly match against Paris Saint Germain in Doha Thursday and Ancelotti looks unlikely to risk a player who has had more than his share of muscle problems in recent seasons.
An unfit Bale could open the door for Jese Rodriguez who scored the winning goal in midweek and whose late strike earned Madrid three vital points in Valencia in the last game before the short Christmas break.
The top scorer in the B-team last season has been knocking on the door of the first team all season and could take advantage of Angel di Maria’s recent poor form amid rumors he could leave the club this January.
Elsewhere Diego Lopez will continue in goal, while new father, Iker Casillas will once again have to be content with a place on the bench.
Celta are coached by former Real Madrid and Barcelona player, Luis Enrique, who is not a popular figure in the Bernabeu after leaving Madrid to join Barca, where he produced the best football of his career.
Luis Enrique has turned Celta into a side that is dedicated to all out attacking football and who are very good to watch, although their defensive frailties have cost them dear on numerous occasions this campaign.
Celta will be without former Barca defender Andreu Fontas, who has knee ligament problems and that will make them even more vulnerable to a side with Madrid’s pace in attack.