11th April, 2015; 14:00 GMT
Real Madrid seem intent on giving Barcelona a tough chase as the race for the La Liga heats up. With just 4 points separating the two teams and 8 games to go, the Spanish La Liga seems to be a two horse race with Barcelona having an edge over Real Madrid who will host Eibar at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
Led by a dynamic Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 6 goals in his last two games, Real Madrid are in a punishing mood as they look to catch up with Barcelona. The Los Blancos demolished Granada courtesy a a 5a star performance by Ronaldo and Madrid followed that with a 2-0 victory against Rayo in order to ensure that they do not slip up in the title chase.
The fixture against Eibar is likely to throw up a few surprises as Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos will be suspended for the game due to the accumulation of the yellow cards. With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended for the game, Real Madrid will be relying heavily on the likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Isco to lead the charge against 14th placed Eibar.
Jese Rodriguez is expected to replace Ronaldo in the starting eleven, with Isco making way for James Rodriguez. However it will be interesting to see who comes in for Toni Kroos as Carlo Ancelotti has Sami Khedira, Illarramendi and Lucas Silva to choose from. Khedira is most likely on his way out of Santiago Bernabeu and Illarramendi has failed to earn Ancelottia s trust with his performances. Hence in all likelihood, new signing Silva will feature in the starting eleven with Luka Modric and Isco for company in the midfield.
Also, Iker Casillas is expected to be dropped from the starting eleven with Keylor Navas replacing him in the team sheet. Though the captain put forward a strong performance against Rayo, it was predetermined that Keylor Navas would be given a chance to play against Eibar.
Probable Line-Up: Navas (GK); Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Carvajal; Modric, Isco, Lucas Silva; Bale, Jese, Benzema
Having won only one game out of their last 8 fixtures, Eibar walk into Santiago Bernabeu desperately seeking to earn a point. Hoping to avoid the relegation zone, Eibar are currently on the 14th spot, 6 points clear of the bottom three. They will face a severe test as they line up against Real Madrid who are on a brilliant run after their defeat against Barcelona.
Currently enjoying their first season in the La Liga, Eibar have a decent defensive record but seem to falter in front of the goal. In their 30 domestic fixtures, Gaizka Garitanoa s side has conceded 40 goals while managing to score only 28. As they face Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, Eibar will have to very strong defensively as they cannot afford to have chinks in the armour. Expected to sit back and soak the pressure, Eibar will look to invite Real Madrid higher up the pitch and then look to attack them on the counter. With Real Madrida s full-backs Carvajal and Marcelo heavily involved in the teama s attack, Eibar will look to move the ball along the wings and surprise the home team with a well timed goal.
Mikel Arruabarrena will be leading Eibara s charge against Real Madrid and the 32 year old Spanish international will look to exploit Real Madrida s defensive weaknesses in order to give his club some breathing room. He will be accompanied with Saul Berjon, Ander Capa and Javi Lara in the attack while Dani Garcia and Borja hold the fort in the midfield.
Probable Line-Up: Irureta (GK); Anibarro, Castellano, Boveda, Didac Vila; Garcia, Borja, Ander Capsa, Javi Lara, Arruabarrena; Berjon
Key Player- Gareth Bale
With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended for the game, Gareth Bale is the player to watch out for as the Welshman has been on sublime form since the international break. After his heroics with the international team, Bale seems to have found his lost touch at Santiago Bernabeu and will be keen to shine in the spotlight in the absence of Ronaldo. Gareth Bale’s partnership with Isco and Benzema will be the key to the game with Luka Modric pulling the strings in the midfield.
Real Madrid 3-0 Eibar
Even though Real Madrid will miss the services of Ronaldo, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, Carlo Ancelotti should earn three points against 14th placed Eibar. However fatigue will be an important factor in the game as the teams are playing twice a week in the league. All said and done, Real Madrid should be able to win easily and it will not be surprising to see them put three past Eibar as the look to chase Barcelona for the La Liga title.