Real Madrid are in the hunt to prevent Barcelona from stretching their lead at the summit of La Liga on Wednesday when they make the trip to face Rayo Vallecano.
The Red Sashes are making a move on the top half of Spanish first tier this season, and Los Merengues will merely be glad it's a short midweek trip to Campo de Futbol de Vallecas.
Read on for a look ahead to Wednesday's Madrid derby, including full viewing details, information and match preview.
Date: Wednesday, April 8
Time: 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid
TV Info: Sky Sports 5 (UK), beIN Sports 2 (US)
Rayo Vallecano Form Guide
Real Madrid Form Guide
A foot injury suffered in training has left Gareth Bale listed as questionable for Wednesday's trip to Rayo, meaning either James Rodriguez or Jese will have to pick up Los Blancos' burden out wide.
Inside La Liga confirm the Welshman may not feature, with Carlo Ancelotti assuredly taking next week's Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid into account:
Speaking to the official Real Madrid website in the buildup to Wednesday's clash, Ancelotti said that James and Isco are each in the running to start, while Sami Khedira is still an option:
“He is like the rest of the players. His fitness has improved and playing with Germany during the international break has helped him a lot. He is a squad member until 30 June and if he is needed I'll use him.”
As Ancelotti hints, Khedira's contract at the Bernabeu runs out this summer, but it seems the German may yet have a part to play in his team's season.
Roberto Trashorras is back for Rayo after serving suspension against Eibar this past weekend, strengthening the hosts' midfield significantly.
Rayo Vallecano (4-2-3-1)
Cristian Alvarez; Tito, Emiliano Insua, Abdoulaye Ba, Ze Castro; Roberto Trashorras, Raul Baena; Gael Kakuta, Adri Embarba, Alberto Bueno; Manucho
Real Madrid (4-3-3)
Iker Casillas; Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos; Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Isco; James Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema
|Rayo Vallecano Win||1-5|
|Real Madrid Win||12-1|
|Real Madrid Win After Drawing at HT||3-1|
Players to Watch
Amid the calls for Bale to be dropped from some sections of the Real Madrid support, this could be an opportunity for midfield maestro Isco to strut his stuff at Real.
And despite playing a backroom role for stretches of the campaign, the playmaker is quoted by Spanish newspaper AS as saying he believes he's developed well this season:
Trashorras' return will give the home outfit a much-needed turn of creativity at their core, and one can expect the ex-Barcelona man to be the one pulling their strings.
Alberto Bueno vs. Toni Kroos
Not many will have expected Rayo Vallecano to have a player with 16 goals to his name this season, but Alberto Bueno has been a pleasant revelation for the Spanish upstarts.
As Squawka shows, the attacker is still some way off the exploits of a certain Real Madrid man, but he'll nonetheless be one of the first danger man Los Blancos look to contain:
Unfortunately for Bueno, Toni Kroos can prove to be an extremely efficient machine when it comes to limiting gaps in between midfield and defence, the exact area in which Rayo's star likes to go about his business.
If Bueno can be shut down, Real succeed in taking down their hosts' most threatening centre-piece, as long as Kroos has the discipline to allow more creative assets to orchestrate matters in possession.