Real Madrid: How Will They Line Up Against Rayo Vallecano in La Liga?

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 30:  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring Real's opening goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on October 30, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Just like there was no time to dwell on the defeat at Camp Nou, Real Madrid have little time to consider their 7-3 win over Sevilla as they carry on their Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday schedule in La Liga.

Next up is a mini Madrid derby as Carlo Ancelotti's side make the trip to Vallecas to take on Rayo Vallecano.

And while there were a few negatives—three goals conceded for example—in the win over Sevilla, there were far more positives.

Gareth Bale scored two and assisted on another two, providing him with a timely boost in light of criticism after the Clasico, while Karim Benzema ended his drought with a brace and a glittering performance.

There was a big moment in the second half, too, as Xabi Alonso made his long awaited return to first-team action in place of Asier Illarramendi.

Alonso is back
Alonso is backAlex Livesey/Getty Images

It all equates to some nice headaches for Ancelotti when it comes to selecting his starting lineup this weekend.

All of a sudden Diego Lopez over Iker Casillas—plus Cristiano Ronaldo, of course—has become the only selection issue you may wager your mortgage on when it comes to Madrid's La Liga side.

Marcelo and Sergio Ramos are close to shoo-ins in defence, while Raphael Varane and Pepe will compete to partner the latter, with Alvaro Arbeloa and Dani Carvajal in an intriguing battle to emerge as the first-choice right-back.

Alonso's return prompts questions about Illarramendi's starting spot—Ancelotti has suggested he can't see them in the same midfield three, via Marca:

I think [Alonso's] presence can help Illarra to improve, but it's hard to put them together in a 4-3-3.

The World Cup-winning midfielder may have to wait for his first start of the season, with there being little need to rush him back into the first team for the short trip to Vallecas.

Madrid's coach is still left with three into two, though. Luka Modric for Sami Khedira, who may be due a rest, would be the obvious change, but Ancelotti hasn't seemed overly keen on pairing the Croatian and Illarra.

Further forward it seems the usual case of four from five.

Benzema's back in the goals
Benzema's back in the goalsGonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

The front four of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Karim Benzema was devastating on Wednesday evening, but Angel di Maria's recent form means he isn't deserving of being left in exile too long.

Ronaldo is the only one unlikely to be rested, so it may be a case of drawing straws to see who misses out from the other four players.

Bale and Benzema both managed braces against Sevilla and, with that confidence boost, should be allowed to continue in what may prove another open game in the Spanish capital.

It's probably best if Carlo sorts out that (positive) dilemma.

Predicted Real Madrid XI: Diego Lopez; Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Sami Khedira, Asier Illarramendi; Gareth Bale, Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo; Karim Benzema