Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo
Gareth Bale (left) and Cristiano Ronaldo could not prevent Real Madrid from falling to defeat at VillarrealReuters

Real Madrid will be looking to close the gap on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga table when they host Rayo Vallecano at the Santiago Bernabeu on 20 December.

Where to watch live

Kick-off is set for 3pm GMT. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 2 HD.

Overview

Real Madrid stumbled to a 1-0 defeat at Villarreal last weekend – their third league defeat in five matches – heaping more pressure on coach Rafael Benitez. The capital club are five points behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the La Liga table and can ill afford to drop points against Rayo Vallecano.

Midfielder Toni Kroos has recovered from a bout of flu and could start at the Bernabeu. Defenders Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane (both thigh) are unlikely to feature.

Rayo Vallecano knocked Getafe out of the Copa del Rey in midweek in thrilling fashion, losing 3-1 on the night but progressing courtesy of a 2-0 home win in the first leg. The Madrid-based side have lost four of their last five matches across all competitions and lie just three points ahead of rock-bottom Levante in 18th place.

David Cobeno, Ze Castro, Razvan Rat and Patrick Ebert are all sidelined for the visitors, but midfielder Raul Baena returns after serving a one-match ban.

What managers say

Rafael Benitez: "It's a league season in which teams are going to drop points. All the teams at the top are going to drop points. To challenge for the title you have to win a lot of games and these types of matches, with the favourable situation that existed before kick-off, are there for us to really lay down our title intentions. It's difficult to explain, but these things sometimes happen. I'm not happy at all with the first half [against Villarreal]. In the first half we didn't play well. I expected the team to play the way it did in the second."

Paco Jemez: "If we do what we did in the last two games we can't compete. If we do what we've done on other occasions we can be competitive. You can't switch off for a whole half against any team in La Liga, and less so against Madrid."

Form guide

  • Real Madrid (all competitions): LWWLW
  • Last result: Villarreal 1-0 Real Madrid
  • Rayo Vallecano (all competitions): LLLWL
  • Last result: Getafe 3-1 Rayo Vallecano (Copa del Rey)

Betting odds (888sport)

  • Real Madrid win: 1/10
  • Draw: 11
  • Rayo Vallecano win: 20

Team news

Real Madrid possible XI: Navas; Danilo, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Rodriguez; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo

Rayo Vallecano possible XI: Yoel; Tito, Llorente, Amaya, Nacho; Jozabed, Baena; Bangoura, Hernandez, Bebe; Guerra