Cristiano Ronaldo returns to La Liga action when Real Madrid entertain Betis on Wednesday night in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Ronaldo is available for Zinedine Zidane after serving a five-game ban, given for being sent off and then pushing the referee in the Spanish Supercup against Barcelona in August.
He showed his importance to the side a week ago in the Champions League with two goals against APOEL Nicosia and will go straight back into the side for Wednesday’s clash.
Karim Benzema and Mateo Kovacic are both injured for the game, and Theo Hernandez is a doubt with a shoulder injury, but Marcelo is also available after his one-game ban for a red card against Levante 10 days ago.
Wednesday will see Gareth Bale return to the Bernabeu after being criticized for recent performances, and it remains to be seen whether his goal in Madrid’s vital 3-1 win away to Real Sociedad on Sunday will go some way toward quietening his critics.
Madrid have drawn their last two home games and are currently four points behind FC Barcelona, although that gap could grow to seven if Barca beat Eibar in their league game on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Betis have begun the season with a few ups and downs as they adjust to the more open style of play of coach Quique Setien. The former Las Palmas boss wants his side to play the ball out from the back, which could leave them vulnerable to Madrid’s tough pressing and counterattack.
When they have the ball, players such as Andres Guardado, Joaquin Sanchez, Sergio Leon and Cristiano Tello give them a sharp attacking edge, but tend to leave holding midfielder Javi Garcia exposed, which could be why they have won their two home games, but lost their two matches away from the Benito Villamarin Stadium. After dropping points at home to Valencia and Levante, Real Madrid know they cannot afford to drop any more.