Real Madrid will look to close the gap on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, with a victory against Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
The Spanish giants currently find themselves six points behind Barcelona, with Atletico, both of whom play only on Sunday, five clear of their crosstown rivals. That gap can be significantly cut with thee points against Real Sociedad in the La Liga.
After losing to Barca in the El Clasico, Real Madrid have been in prime goalscoring form in the league, netting ten goals in their last two fixtures - a 7-3 win over Sevilla, and a 3-2 result over neighbours Rayo Vallecano.
As the results show, they have conceded quite a few goals as well, and that will be Carlo Ancelotti's concern as they host Sociedad, who smashed five past Osasuna in their previous La Liga encounter.
"Real Sociedad is a good team with a good attitude," Real manager Carlo Ancelotti said. "They're very dynamic and have fast players. It won't be an easy match. They already proved against Manchester United that they can play major games and it's a really good test for us because we need to play well and with intensity."
That Champions League match, however, saw Sociedad fail to find the target against United, and Real will know if they play their game, they will be able to trump their opponents, with Ancelotti revealing he already had a first XI in mind for the game on Saturday.
"I have a starting 11 in mind but we'll need more players throughout the season because we have a lot of games to play," the Italian added. "The same 11 players can't always play because then I'd have 11 tired players and another 11 unmotivated ones. That's why the rotations are important, but if a player is doing well there's no rotation."
Real Sociedad have concerns over their away form, having won just once all season, and midfielder Xabi Prieto understands the importance of being at their best against Madrid.
"We have to stay focused and play a good game if we are going to get something," Prieto said. "Let's see if we can continue in the way that the team is playing on a big stage. We always expect a great Real Madrid, playing at home with the support of their fans, and we need our best."
Team News: Real Madrid have doubts over Marcelo and Sami Khedira, with the duo set to undergo late fitness tests. Cristiano Ronaldo has a slight toe problem, but that is not expected to keep him out of the game.
Ancelotti confirmed Xabi Alonso will start the game, and it remains to be see whether the manager keeps Sergio Ramos at right-back after the Spanish international was used in that position against Juventus.
Real Sociedad will be without long-term absentee Esteban Granero and Diego Ifran.
Key men: Real Madrid: Karim Benzema will be keen to get a few goals against Sociedad to boost his confidence.
Real Sociedad: Carlos Vela, with his pace and directness, could cause a serious threat to the Real defence.
Where to watch
The game is scheduled for an 8.30 pm IST start on Saturday night with live coverage on Star Sports HD2. You can also catch the match live online by clicking the official link HERE.
Expected lineups: Real Madrid: Lopez; Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao; Illarramendi, Alonso, Modric; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Prediction: 3-1 to Real Madrid