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

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2014

Real's Isco, centre right, Elche's Aaron Niguez, centre left, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Elche at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

"There will be no risks taken in Malaga," say Madrid-based newspaper Marca ahead of Real Madrid's trip to the south of Spain.

It's perhaps a reference to Barcelona's recent rotation issues which have led to the Catalans losing three of their last six La Liga matches and slipping four points behind Madrid—never better illustrated than by the use of both Sergio Busquets and Alex Song against Real Sociedad.

It means Atletico Madrid, three points back, are Los Blancos' closest challengers, and Carlo Ancelotti doesn't want to give them any opportunities to close the gap.

Therefore, there will only be a couple of changes—one forced, the other precautionary—made to the side which beat Levante 3-0 last weekend.

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 02:  Diego Godin of Atletico de Madrid faces with Pepe of Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid CF at Vicente Calderon Stadium on March 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Ar
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Sergio Ramos, who picked up his 10th yellow card of the season last time out, will be suspended, allowing Pepe to return to the centre of Ancelotti's back four alongside French international Raphael Varane.

Diego Lopez will be between the sticks, while Dani Carvajal and Marcelo—who played a part in all three goals at the Bernabeu against Levante—will continue as the full-backs.

The other change, Marca suggest on the back of Wednesday's training session, will see Angel di Maria slip out of the starting line-up:

Ancelotti staged a dry run of his plans for Saturday's trip to the Rosaleda. Di Maria is expected to be kept back ahead of the Clasico, as he is a yellow card away from a ban—in Wednesday's session, the Italian coach slotted Isco in instead of the Argentine in central midfield.

It, of course, makes sense for Di Maria not to risk that booking with such an important game against Barcelona just over one week away.

Isco, against the side he left last summer, will likely line up alongside Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso.


Bouncing Bale

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 09:  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF reacts after falling over during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Levante UD at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on March 9, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

With Madrid not involved in the Champions League again until next week, there has been a much-welcomed break from competitive games for Gareth Bale.

The Welshman, after completing such a late summer move from Tottenham, has suffered a stop-start season, struggling with injuries after failing to accomplish a full pre-season in the Spanish capital.

However, since the turn of the year, he's enjoyed a run of fitness and, as a result of that, games too.

With the final stretch of the season now in sight, Madrid hope he can become a big player in the big games. Marca have said this free week has allowed the 24-year-old to "move into fifth gear" and he will looking to maintain that gear going into next Sunday's Barca match.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, the other parts of the "BBC" trio, will take their place alongside Bale in Ancelotti's front three.

Jese Rodriguez may feel aggrieved to be back on the periphery, but, after a string of impressive performances during Bale's injury and Ronaldo's suspension, you have to imagine his time will come.

In the meantime, check out the young forward playing his part in a music video (h/t Daily Mail).

Predicted Real Madrid XI: Diego Lopez; Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso, Isco; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo.