Racing Santander v Real Madrid, La Liga, April 4, 2010
The Clasico may be just a week away but Real Madrid dare not pick up three vital points before the highly-anticipated visit of Barcelona to the Bernabeu.
In truth, Manuel Pellegriniâ€™s side are red hot favourites to win this one following an incredible 11 successive victories in the league where they have scored 39 goals. Cristiano Ronaldo (seven goals in seven league games) and Gonzalo Higuain (seven in four) are in red hot form and it would be no surprise if Real Madrid rack up quite a few goals again at the El Sardinero.
Real will be without suspended pair Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos but could have Lassana Diarra and Karim Benzema back from injury. Alonso could be a major loss as his positional play is key to Los Blancos as was proved when Lyon drew 1-1 in their second leg Champions League encounter. (Draw/Real Madrid is 4.38.)
Pellegrini is also expected to be missing the likes of Kaka, Ezequiel Garay, Royston Drenthe, Guti and Kaka for the trip to Santander. Kaka has not played since the Champions League exit whilst Guti picked up another injury in training on Thursday.
Santander have lost their last five games to Real Madrid and their recent form suggests they could well be relegated as they are just six points off the relegation zone. The Racinguistas have won just once in eight games and come into this match off the back of a thrilling 4-3 defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Monday. (1.63 to be over 3 goals, 1.99 to be under.)
All eyes will be on Santanderâ€™s starlet Sergio Canales, who has been the revelation of the Spanish season. The 19-year-old playmaker has scored five goals and provided three assists in 19 appearances in 2009/2010 and signed a six-year contract with Real Madrid in February who he will join in the summer.
Besides the gifted Canales, Santander rely on talisman Pedro Munitis who spent three seasons at Real Madrid. The veteran number 10 has yet to score this season but can still cause havoc in the opposition defence. Congo striker Mohammed Tchite will also be looking to add to his tally of four goals this season.
Santanderâ€™s main problem this season has been keeping the goals out, 42 conceded in 29 matches leaves them as the fifth worst defence in La Liga and it would be a major surprise if they can stop Real Madrid.
To make matters worse for the home side, defender Henrique, on loan from Barcelona has been ruled out for the season and fellow centre back Oriol is suspended. Ronaldo, Higuain and Van der Vaart could have a field day…
101gg predicts: Racing Santander 0 â€“ Real Madrid 4 (15.91)