Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has to perform a juggling act when his side face struggling Osasuna in the Spanish league on Saturday night.
Ancelotti’s side are three points behind league leaders, Atletico Madrid, who face a difficult trip to Valencia on Sunday, but have a worse head to head goal difference with their rivals, meaning Atletico have the luxury of losing one of their last four games, reports Xinhua.
Failure to beat Osasuna would see Real Madrid drop out of the title race and perhaps allow Barcelona to leapfrog them into second.
However, Ancelotti will also be aware that on Tuesday, his side have perhaps the most important game of the season as they defend a 1-0 lead in the return leg of their Champions League semi-final against current champions Bayern Munich in what promises to be an incredibly hostile atmosphere for the Spanish side.
Bearing in mind the importance of Tuesday’s game, Ancelotti could be tempted to rest Cristiano Ronaldo, who has suffered knee and hamstring problems in recent weeks.
Ronaldo’s absence could allow Gareth Bale to return to the starting 11 after being a substitute Wednesday night, while Isco could also keep his place in the side.
There must also be a temptation to rest veteran midfielder Xabi Alonso, Asier Illarramendi a like for like replacement while Alvaro Morata could also start on Saturday.
Diego Lopez should return in goal, while Pepe’s muscle injury should give young central defender, Rafael Varane the chance to play at the heart of the Madrid defence.
Osasuna meanwhile have five players who are one yellow card from suspension and it has been speculated that with two home games remaining in which they have to secure their place in the top flight for next season, coach Javi Gracia could be tempted to leave Marc Beltran, Arribas, Damia, Raoul Loe and Alvaro Cejudo out, given that his chance of taking anything from their visit to Madrid appear to be slim.