LaLiga Matchday 14: Real ready for Cadiz clash after Rayo defeat
Real Madrid tasted defeat against Rayo Vallecano last time out — and will be desperate to bounce back by beating lowly Cadiz on Matchday 14.
Leaders Barcelona, meanwhile, face a tricky trip to fifth-placed Osasuna as they look to stay ahead of Los Blancos.
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid travel to mid-table Mallorca, while out-of-form pair Valencia and Real Betis meet at the Mestalla.
And struggling Sevilla face a daunting task when they host sixth-placed Real Sociedad.
Game of the week: Real Madrid vs Cadiz (Thursday, 8.30pm)
Rayo Vallecano recorded a shock 3-2 victory over Real Madrid on Monday night — but Carlo Ancelotti's men will be confident of an immediate return to winning ways.
No team in the division has netted fewer times than Cadiz (eight goals) and only the other two occupants of the relegation zone (Elche and Celta Vigo) have shipped more than their 24 goals against.
But Los Blancos will need to be on their guard to avoid more dropped points. After all, their Andalucian opponents have only lost one of their last eight games (two wins, five draws).
Osasuna vs Barcelona (Tuesday, 8.30pm)
Barcelona have reached LaLiga's summit and could edge further ahead of rivals Real Madrid with a victory at Osasuna.
Xavi's outfit boast the best defence in the league, shipping a miserly four goals in 13 games, while they are similarly proficient in attack — netting 31 times to date.
Summer signing Robert Lewandowski is the division's top scorer by some distance and is responsible for 13 of those 31 strikes, while also managing four assists.
Osasuna, though, have enjoyed a strong campaign themselves and could rise to third with a win.
Mallorca vs Atletico Madrid (Wednesday, 8.30pm)
Atletico Madrid travel to in-form Mallorca — who have earned seven points in their last three league games — in need of a win to spark their season into life.
Diego Simeone's men have triumphed in just one of their last four league outings (two draws, one defeat) and have slipped away from the title race.
Uncharacteristically for the capital club, they have lacked some of their usual defensive solidity, conceding as many goals (13) as their 12th-placed opponents.
Going forward has not been an issue, however, with the Colchoneros' 21 strikes behind only top two sides Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Valencia vs Real Betis (Thursday, 7pm)
Real Betis have stuttered a little of late after a strong start to the season, failing to win three of their last four LaLiga games (two draws, one defeat).
However, they remain in the top four and visit an 11th-placed Valencia side that have not claimed a league win in their last five league outings (three draws, two defeats).
Manuel Pellegrini's Andalucians boast the second-best defensive record in LaLiga — conceding just nine times so far — and will hope that solidity can carry them to victory over Los Che.
Sevilla vs Real Sociedad (Wednesday, 6pm)
Sixth-placed Real Sociedad are winless in each of their last three LaLiga games (one draw, two defeats) — but a trip to struggling Sevilla offers a chance to return to form.
Los Nervionenses sit in 17th — just outside of the relegation zone on goal difference — and are winless in four (two draws, two defeats).
Furthermore, only the league's bottom two clubs (Elche and Cadiz) have scored fewer times than Sevilla (12).
Manager Jorge Sampaoli will be desperate to improve that record when these teams meet at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
The week's other games
Elche vs Girona (Tuesday, 6pm)
Athletic Bilbao vs Real Valladolid (Tuesday, 7pm)
Almeria vs Getafe (Wednesday, 6pm)
Espanyol vs Villarreal (Wednesday, 7pm)
Rayo Vallecano vs Celta Vigo (Thursday, 6pm)