Leagues, Málaga, Real Madrid, Spanish Primera División, Story

Real Madrid will hope to cut into Barcelona’s 10-point lead when they host resurgent Malaga in LaLiga on Saturday.

Real can reduce the deficit with a win at the Bernabeu before Barcelona embark on a tough trip to second-placed Valencia on Sunday night.

It means one of the two sides ahead of Real are guaranteed to drop points this weekend but Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane is not expecting an easy ride against Malaga.

Michel’s side sit 18th in the table but have shown shoots of a revival in recent weeks, winning two of their last three matches.

“They’re a team who don’t deserve to be where they are in the table” Zidane told realmadrid.com.

“They play good football. We know it’ll be another difficult match and we’ll have to play very well.”

On Barcelona’s visit to Valencia, Zidane said: “One of the two will drop points. I’m interested in our match, getting the three points and then seeing what happens on Sunday in that game.

“Something will happen for sure. I didn’t imagine being 10 points behind. Every match is decisive. We’re on the right track, we have a lot of energy and we’re positive.”

Zidane fielded a strong team in the Champions League on Tuesday and his decision was vindicated by a 6-0 thrashing of Apoel Nicosia.

Sergio Ramos was one key absentee, the defender suffering a facial injury against Atletico Madrid last weekend, but he is expected to return this weekend.

Gareth Bale, Mateo Kovacic and Keylor Navas are all close to returning, having resumed training, but Marco Asensio has been ruled out with a leg injury.

“It’s nothing serious but he has something,” Zidane said. “It’s better to lose him for three or four days than to continue and make it worse.”

Zidane said Bale is in “good shape physically and not in pain”.

“There’s a lot of talk that he’s injured, that Gareth has spent a lot of time out, playing three games and then missing one. But he’s very important for us,” Zidane said.

“He knows that, I know it and everyone else does. I don’t know when he’ll play. Today he’s trained with us, he’s in fine shape physically and not in pain. We’ll see when he’s going to play.”

Real have struggled at home this season, having drawn with Valencia, Levante and Tottenham, while losing to Real Betis.

“These teams are used to attacking you,” Michel told malagacf.com.

“They have their individuals but they can also have a hard time defending. Before us, Levante, Betis, Las Palmas, Tottenham and Eibar have all been to the Bernabeu.

“These teams all had their chances as they all had good possession and depth, so that’s what we’re concentrating on.”

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