Osasuna v Real Madrid, Primera Division, January 3, 2009
Real Madrid travel to Pamplona looking to build on the fine form they showed before the short winter break in Spain. Following defeat at the Nou Camp at the end of November, Manuel Pellegrini racked up four victories, scoring 16 goals and securing their first win this season against another major club with a 3-2 victory at Valencia.
Just two points behind Barcelona, who play Villareal on Saturday night, big things are expected of Real Madrid in 2010. The second coming of the Galacticos is expected to herald a La Liga title and a place in the Champions League final at the Bernabeu on May.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been hugely vocal in the Madrid based newspapers this week. The former Manchester United winker has told Marca he aims to be the best player in history and this is a major season for the Portuguese forward with the World Cup in the summer.
Kaka trained on Thursday and could be involved at Osasuna after injury had kept him out since the defeat to Barcelona. If fit, the Brazilian will line up alongside Ronaldo behind the in-form Gonzalo Higuain who has scored four goals in his last two games. (Real Madrid are 13/8 to win both halves.)
With Kaka back in the fold, Manuel Pellegrini is only without Mahamadou Diarra who is at the African Nations Cup and Pepe who picked up a long term knee injury at Valencia. Argentine Ezequiel Garay is set to start alongside Raul Albiol in the centre of defence with Lassana Diarra and Xabi Alonso in front of them. (Real Madrid are 7/5 to keep a clean sheet.) Rafael van der Vaart will also feel unlucky if he doesnâ€™t make the starting line up after scoring two goals in the 6-0 win over Zaragoza.
Osasuna have produced some classic mid-table form this season leaving them in 12th position in La Liga although they are just four points off the relegation zone. They have produced some notable results in 2009/2010, including a 1-1 draw (17/2) with Barcelona in October and a 3-0 home win over struggling Atletico Madrid.
Coach Jose Antonio Camacho will be eager to do well after making over 400 appearances for Real Madrid in his playing days and also coached Los Blancos for a spell in 2004/2005. His main danger man is undoubtedly Uruguayan hitman Walter Pandiani who is the clubâ€™s top goal scorer with six goals this season.
Elsewhere in the Osasuna side, Juanfran is a player who can make things happen down the right hand side and Javier Portillo will be hoping for a rare start against his former side. Iranian Mosaud Shojaei is another schemer from midfield that Pellegrini will be well aware of.
Having not played since their 6-0 win over Real Zaragoza two weeks ago, Real Madrid may be a little rusty but should be good enough to eke out a win. Expect Cristiano Ronaldo to score to continue his fine tally of 13 goals in 12 games since joining for a world record transfer fee in the summer.
101gg predicts: Osasuna 0 â€“ Real Madrid 2 (8/1)
Full match odds here.