With an almost full strength squad to chose from against Rayo Vallecano, the pressure is on Rafael Benitez to ensure Real Madrid recover from a faltering title challenge that has seen them drop five points away from the top two in Spain.

Real are now five adrift of city rivals Atletico Madrid and arch-rivals FC Barcelona at the top of the Spanish League.

With struggling Rayo Vallecano coming to the Santiago Bernabeu, manager Rafael Benitez has to deliver the right result, having lost three of their last six games.

Rayo have lost their last three games and sit level on points with Granada, just a place above relegation zone.


Madrid will have an almost full strength squad to chose from, with only defender Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane out injured.

James is expected to continue in central midfield, alongside Luca Modric and Toni Kroos, who is expected to shrug off an injury to take his place in midfield.

The defence will see goalkeeper Keylor Navas protected by the back four of Danilo, Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Marcelo.

The attacking trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo are expected to break the back line of a defence that has already conceded a mammoth 27 goals in just 15 games, the joint highest in the league alongside bottom side Levante.

Predicted Real Madrid XI (4-3-3): Navas; Danilo, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, James, Modric; Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema