Francisco Seco/Associated Press
Real Madrid return to domestic action on Sunday as they travel to La Liga’s bottom side Malaga.
Zinedine Zidane’s men go into the game on the back of a 3-1 defeat by Juventus on Wednesday in a dramatic UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg.
The game looked set for extra-time until Cristiano Ronaldo’s stoppage-time penalty gave Real a 4-3 aggregate win. However, it was a performance that will have given coach Zinedine Zidane plenty of cause for concern.
Here’s a look at how you can watch the game, followed by team news and a match preview.
Date: Sunday, April. 15
Time: 7:45 p.m. (BST)/2:45 p.m. (ET)
TV: Sky Sports Football (UK)
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was badly missed against Juventus as he was suspended, but he should return alongside Raphael Varane in the heart of the visitors’ defence.
Otherwise, Real’s only injury problem concerns Nacho Fernandez, who is expected to miss all of April due to a thigh problem, per Marca.
Struggling Malaga have plenty of injury problems and will be without Juankar, Adalberto Penaranda, Recio, Juanpi Anor, Federico Ricca, Zdravko Kuzmanovic, Maxime Lestienne and Chory Castro, per Transfermarkt.com.
Malaga’s Fate is Almost Sealed
Hosts Malaga head into the gameweek 14 points from safety and could see their fate sealed within their next two matches, depending on results elsewhere.
Jose Manuel Gonzalez Lopez’s side have won just four games, and there is little doubt they will be playing in the Segunda Division next season.
Malaga have managed just one win in 2018 so far, although that came in their last home match against Villarreal. Chory Castro was the match-winner for the hosts, converting a 37th-minute penalty for the only goal of the game.
Opta showed how that win ended an awful run by Malaga:
14 – Málaga’s victory vs Villarreal has ended a run of 14 games without winning, the second worst run for the Andalusian team in Primera División (D3 L11). Hope https://t.co/CGayHEnCHR
Yet Malaga followed that up with a 3-2 defeat to fellow strugglers Deportivo La Coruna, and anything other than an away win will be a huge shock.
Real Madrid in Need of Improvement
Real Madrid are also coming off a defeat, and Zidane offered his view about his team’s performance after the game, per Dermot Corrigan at ESPN FC:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Zidane: “They played a very good game, and we were not so good. But we believed until the end that we would go through. And I believe that across the two games we deserved to make the semis. We can be happy with that.”
Despite the result, there were few positives for Real Madrid to take. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas and left-back Marcelo both had poor games, and too many of the team’s big names failed to have an impact.
An improvement will be needed, but Malaga will have to be wary of Ronaldo, who remains in simply brilliant form.
Football writer Michael Yokhin made a neat comparison between the forward and Malaga:
Michael Yokhin @Yokhin
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more La Liga goals in 2018 than Malaga in the entire season.
The Portugal star has continued that form and has now scored an incredible 25 goals in his last 14 outings for his club.
While Real Madrid’s focus will remain on the Champions League, they still have work to do in La Liga. Zidane’s side have dropped to fourth place in the table but are only four points behind Atletico Madrid in second.
A comfortable win over Malaga would help restore momentum and belief after the defeat to Juventus. On present form, Ronaldo will take some stopping, and he may well deliver the goals and all three points.