Despite missing key players through injury Real Madrid have an excellent opportunity on Saturday to put pressure on their title rivals.
Victory over Sporting Gijon would open up a seven-point lead over Barcelona, who have to travel to play Real Sociedad, a side they have not beaten away from home in 10 years.
The loss of Gareth Bale with ligament damage in his ankle is a severe blow to Zinedine Zidane and his side. The Welsh international had to pull up after an hour of Madrid’ s win away to Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday and will be out of action for at least two months.
With Cristiano Ronaldo producing fewer of his charging runs these days, Karim Benzema looking short of fitness and Alvaro Morata another injury victim, Madrid have lost the player who guided the majority of their counter-attacks.
Lucas Vazquez will almost certainly be given the task when Madrid entertain a struggling Sporting Gijon on Saturday, while Isco and Luka Modric will continue a central midfield which is also missing Tony Kroos.
Last weekend saw Madrid produce their best version as they won 3-0 away to neighbors Atletico Madrid, but they were well below par on Tuesday and it needed a late goal from Benzema to give them a win in Lisbon.
Even if Madrid are below their best on Saturday they should be able to comfortably beat Sporting.
The side coached by former Barcelona player Abelardo Fernandez is third from bottom of the table with just nine points and when you consider that seven of those came in the first three matches of the season and another came in a 0-0 draw against bottom of the table Granada, that gives an idea of their current form.
The Asturians are without a win in nine games and last weekend saw them produce a horrendous display to lose 3-1 at home to Real Sociedad.
Abelardo’ s job is clearly under pressure, but despite that they may travel to the capital with one eye on next week’ s fixture which sees them entertain Osasuna. Although the form of hard-working striker Duje Cop and young defender Jorge Mere offer some hope for the future, it is hard to see Sporting pose much of a threat despite Madrid’ s absences.