Real Madrid resume their season following La Liga’s winter break on Wednesday as they host struggling Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu.
Although they hammered Rayo Vallecano 10-2 in their previous match, it won’t have been the most pleasant festive period for Los Blancos.
They are two points behind Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at the top of the table, and the defending champions also have a game in hand.
And they had to watch their great rivals win the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan while their own club’s internal problems continued over Christmas.
Under-pressure manager Rafael Benitez has claimed that there is a “campaign” against him and president Florentino Perez, as BBC Sport reports.
Benitez’s comments come amid rumours of a potential Jose Mourinho return, as The Mirror reports, and after a poll in Marca, via BBC Sport, found that Madrid fans would rather have Zinedine Zidane – currently coach of Real Madrid’s reserve team – in charge instead of the former Liverpool boss.
“Everything that is open to criticism is criticised and that which is not is manipulated,” Benitez is quoted by BBC Sport as saying.
“What is clear is that there is a campaign against Florentino Perez, against Real Madrid and against the manager.
“Surveys are carried out continuously and the media’s interest in doing them is part of their interest in manipulating things”.
One thing that Benitez does not have to worry about is team selection. He should stick with the same XI which destroyed nine-man Rayo.
Gareth Bale scored four, Karim Benzema three and Cristiano Ronaldo two as Real became the first team to score double figures in a La Liga match since 1969.
Sociedad should be very wary because Madrid have actually scored an astonishing 22 goals in their last three matches in all competitions.
The Basque outfit are 14th in the table and have shown no marked improvement since sacking ex-Manchester United boss David Moyes in November.
They have won two, drawn two and lost two of their six league matches under the management of Eusebio, and remain only two points clear of trouble.
Eusebio has Alberto De La Bella available again after a suspension, but David Zurutuza, who has not played since October, is still unavailable.
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