Real Madrid make their return to action on Sunday when they host Eibar in La Liga, looking to keep pace with Barcelona in the title race.
Real and Barça are separated by just two points, having both played 27 of their 38 league fixtures so far this term. It’s a title challenge that you can’t take your eyes off – neither side has been faultless this term, and the run-in will go right down to the wire.
Eibar, meanwhile, are in a relegation battle. Los Armeros are 16th in Spain’s top flight, just two points above the drop zone.
A minute’s silence will be observed at every ground this weekend to remember those who have lost lives at the hands of the coronavirus.
When Is Kick Off: Sunday 14 June
What Time Is Kick Off: 18:30 (BST)
Where Is It Played: Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano
TV Channel/Live Stream: Premier Sports (UK), FuboTV (US)
Eden Hazard has only played ten times since his big money move from Chelsea last summer, while Marco Asensio hasn’t appeared since rupturing his ACL in a pre-season game against Arsenal.
The good news for Zinedine Zidane is that both are in contention to appear in the club’s campaign run-in.
Eibar have a relatively clean squad for their tough trip to the Spanish capital, though 35-year-old Ivan Ramis will be absent. They also have two suspensions, with Paulo Oliveira and Gonzalo Escalante due to miss out.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Mendy; Casemiro, Modri?, Kroos; Vinícius, Benzema, Hazard.
Eibar: Dmitrovi?; Correa, Arbilla, Bigas, Cote; León, Diop, Cristóforo, Orellana; Enrich, Charles.
Real have dominated this fixture since it was first played in the 2003/04 Copa del Rey. Los Blancos have won ten of their 13 meetings with Eibar, and there have also been two draws. That leaves just one match unaccounted for – the incredible 3-0 win for Eibar in La Liga in November 2018.
Karim Benzema hit a brace in the first meeting between these two this season, with Eibar thrashed 4-0 at home.
Madrid’s form has been stuttering, confusing and highly inconsistent.
Since February, they have beaten bitter rivals Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, but have lost to Levante and Real Betis in La Liga during that time. They are also 2-1 down to Manchester City in their Champions League round of 16 tie.
Eibar have won just once since February, seeing off Levante 3-0. Their final result before Spain went into lockdown was a 2-1 home defeat to Real Sociedad, marking their fourth defeat in five fixtures.
Frankly, both sides go into this match inn poor form. For both, the break came at a helpful time.
Both sides’ recent league form is below.
Real Betis 2-1 Real Madrid (8/3)
Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona (1/3)
Levante 1-0 Real Madrid (22/2)
Real Madrid 2-2 Celta Vigo (16/2)
Osasuna 1-4 Real Madrid (9/2)
Eibar 1-2 Real Sociedad (10/3)
Eibar 1-2 Mallorca (7/3)
Eibar 3-0 Levante (29/2)
Barcelona 5-0 Eibar (22/2)
Alavés 2-1 Eibar (7/2)
Real haven’t been on their A-game all season, but they do have about ten players that can play on the wing this weekend. All of them would cause Eibar problems.
Down in 16th place, Eibar could really do with a win. It looks like the kind of game Real have wrapped up before it’s even started, though. The fact their home games won’t be at the Bernabéu is unlikely to affect proceedings too much – the Bundesliga has already shown that playing behind closed doors seems to eliminate home advantage altogether.
Zidane’s team don’t need home advantage, though. They had enough quality to see Eibar off in the away leg, and there should be no bumpy ride here.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-0 Eibar