Madrid, Dec 1 (IANS): Real Madrid have the chance to open a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga when they entertain Athletic Club Bilbao on Wednesday night.
The game corresponds to the ninth round of games should have been played on October 12. However, in order to avoid 'adulterating' the competition La Liga postponed this game as Real Madrid had players returning late from World Cup qualifying matches in South America.
Athletic Club strongly protested the decision at the time as it meant they went three weeks without a competitive game at one of the busiest times of the season, while playing the game in midweek favours Real Madrid, who have a stronger squad and are more able to rotate their starting 11 without it affecting their performance, reports Xinhua.
Now the Basque side will also travel to Madrid on Wednesday without their best defender Inigo Martinez, who was sent off in the last minute of their 2-2 draw at home to Granada on Friday night and misses a game he would have been available for in October.
The side coached by Marcelino Garcia Toral has suffered a dip in form over the past international break and is without a win in their last five games, although they have still conceded just 10 goals all season.
Real Madrid have had 48 hours less to prepare for the game and coach Carlo Ancelotti may also consider refreshing a midfield that has seen him use Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos for their last two games.
With Fede Valverde still out, Eduardo Camavinga has a chance to start in midfield, while Lucas Vazquez could also come into the side. However, Ancelotti seems certain to keep Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr in his side after their goals once again gave their side all three points on the weekend.
Meanwhile, Gareth Bale is still out with a calf injury, while Eden Hazard and Rodrygo both have a stomach bug.