Real Madrid host Getafe in La Liga on Saturday, seeking a positive result as they look to put a controversial week behind them.
Madrid’s 3-1 win over Cadiz in the first leg of the Copa del Rey last-32 tie has been overshadowed by the possibility of expulsion from the competition for fielding an ineligible player, Denis Cheryshev.
Cheryshev scored the opener in Wednesday’s away win before being replaced 45 seconds into the second half, with Cadiz proceeding with legal processes against the Spanish giants.
The return to league fixtures could provide vital respite for under-pressure head coach Rafael Benitez, whose Madrid slipped to third in La Liga following two defeats from their last three matches.
Benitez received further criticism this week when former Cadiz coach David Vidal claimed the Spaniard was treating the Madrid job like he was working for upcoming opponents Getafe.
“People say you have to organise the defence and the attack is improvised, but that’s a lie,” he said.
“He has to do better because he is working with the best players in the world. He has to play brilliant football.”
Madrid received a fitness boost this week, with Marcelo returning to training.
Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal, meanwhile, continue their respective recoveries.
After naming a second-string line-up for the cup clash against Segunda B opposition midweek, Benitez has the luxury of naming a fresh team, including the return of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Getafe, 13th in the table, ended a run of four games without a win in the league last time out when they beat Villarreal 2-0.
Goals either side of half-time from Angel Lafita and Alvaro Vazquez sealed a much-needed three points for Fran Escriba’s side.
Ahead of their trip to the capital, full-back Roberto Lago urged his team-mates to believe in their ability.
“[Madrid] have a very large squad [and] it is a difficult game,” he told the club’s official website.
“We will play to win. Let’s believe in ourselves. We will look to make things right and fight for what we can get.”
Madrid thrashed Getafe 7-3 in the corresponding fixture in May, with Ronaldo netting a hat-trick within the opening 34 minutes in the final match of the campaign.
Benitez’s men have won each of their last seven home games against Getafe scoring 28 goals in the process.
Getafe have not taken maximum points from an away game since April.