Real Madrid can't afford to drop any more points if they're to stay in the La Liga title race. Zinedine Zidane's side head into Sunday's match away at mid-table Málaga seven points adrift of league leaders Barcelona. Four straight wins in all competitions suggest they're hitting peak form as we head into the season's home stretch, though it may be too little, too late for the Merengues.
As for Málaga, it hasn't been a memorable season to date, but they're trundling along solidly in 11th place. They'd won two on the bounce before last weekend's defeat away at high-flying Villarreal, with their campaign so far dogged by their usual inconsistency. As it stands, they'd do well to better last season's ninth place league finish, and just as well to pick up a result at home to Real Madrid.
Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Rumors of Cristiano Ronaldo's discontent under Rafa Benítez have subsided since the Spaniard was sacked, and there's no denying that Zidane's arrival has coincided with a purple patch for the Portuguese winger. He's now scored eight goals in his last six games in all competitions, and will be looking to make mincemeat of the Málaga defense on Sunday.
Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw at home to Málaga in the reverse fixture, though have otherwise enjoyed playing against the Andalusian outfit over the last few seasons. Following their last defeat at La Roselada in 2012, Madrid went on a run of five straight victories in meetings between the two teams. They'll be looking to return to winning ways on the weekend.
Málaga injuries and suspensions
Out: Christian Atsu, Chory Castro (thigh); Juan Carlos (adductor). In doubt: Hachim Mastour (hamstring); Fernando Tissone (knee).
Real Madrid injuries and suspensions
Out: Pepe (foot); Gareth Bale (calf); Raphaël Varane (suspended). In doubt: None.
Málaga will certainly be without wingers Castro and Atsu, while versatile wideman Carlos -- who started his career with Real Madrid -- will also miss out. Midfielders Mastour and Tissone are both strong doubts.
For Madrid, Pepe will be joined in the stands by his suspended defensive counterpart Varane. Winger Bale is their only other absentee.
Match date/time: Sun., 10 a.m. ET, 4 p.m. local
Venue: La Rosaleda, Málaga, Spain
TV: beIN Sports (US and Canada - English); beIN Sports en Español (US and Canada - Spanish); Sky Sports 3/HD (UK)
Online: beIN Sports Connect (US and Canada); fuboTV (US); Sky Go (UK)