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Jul 10, 2020 at 9pm UK
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Preview: Real Madrid vs. Alaves - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Real Madrid vs. Alaves - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Friday's La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Alaves, including team news and predicted lineups.

Real Madrid will be looking to continue their charge towards the La Liga title when they welcome lowly Alaves to the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium on Friday night.

Los Blancos currently sit four points clear of second-placed Barcelona at the top of the table, while Alaves occupy 16th, six points clear of the relegation zone with four games left.

Match preview

It is very much advantage Madrid at this stage of the campaign, with Zinedine Zidane's side sitting four points clear of second-placed Barcelona, who have dipped since returning to action after the lockdown period.

Barca will have the chance to move to within a point of their bitter rivals when they face Espanyol in the Catalan derby on Wednesday night, although the gap will again be four if Madrid were to overcome Alaves in this match.

Four points with three games left would be a huge advantage; Zidane's team do have potentially tricky games against Granada, Villarreal and Leganes to come, although it would be a surprise if they did not manage to pick up enough points in those fixtures to finish at the top of the pile.

Madrid have now won their last seven in the league, including their last three 1-0, which is title-winning form; their performances have not always been pretty since returning to action last month, but a run of four straight clean sheets is an indication of their improvement in that area of the field.

Only once since the 2011-12 season have Los Blancos managed to win La Liga, and they will be determined to pick up all three points on Friday to move a step closer to lifting the trophy.

Barcelona will be hoping that Alaves can do them a huge favour in this match, but the omens are not exactly terrific for the Basque side, who are currently 16th in the table.

Indeed, Los Babazorros have lost each of their last five in the league, scoring just once in the process, which led to Asier Garitano being sacked as head coach at the weekend.

Juan Muniz, who last managed Malaga in 2019, has been placed in charge of the club until the end of the season, and the 51-year-old's first assignment could not be much more difficult.

Alaves are enjoying their fourth season at this level of football, and it would be a surprise if they were relegated despite their poor form, which has seen them slide down the table.

A total of 35 points from 34 matches has left them in 16th position, six points clear of 18th-placed Mallorca, which is a healthy advantage at this late stage of the campaign.

Real Madrid La Liga form: WWWWWW

Alaves La Liga form: WLLLLL

Team News

Madrid will be far from at full strength on Friday, with key defenders Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal both suspended due to the bookings that they picked up against Athletic last time out.

Eden Hazard is also expected to remain on the sidelines with an ankle problem, meaning that Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio could join Karim Benzema in the final third of the field.

Nacho's ongoing absence with a thigh problem means that Zidane has decisions to make in defence; Raphael Varane should be back from a head injury, having already returned to training, and the Frenchman could be joined at centre-back by Eder Militao.

Lucas Vazquez and Ferland Mendy are options for the right-back spot, meanwhile, and the latter could get the nod, allowing Marcelo to come into the side at left-back.

Alaves, meanwhile, have lost defender Ruben Duarte for the remainder of the season due to a foot injury, while goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco remains on the sidelines with a muscular problem.

The strugglers are otherwise in good shape when it comes to injuries, though, and it will be very interesting to see how Muniz approaches this game in terms of formation.

Joselu could return to the attack alongside Lucas Perez, while Pere Pons is also in line for a recall, meaning that Scotland international Oliver Burke could drop back down to the bench.

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Mendy, Militao, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Vinicius, Benzema, Asensio

Alaves possible starting lineup:
Jimenez; Aguirregabiria, Laguardia, Magellan, Marin; Pons, Fejsa, Pina, Mendez; Joselu, Perez

We say: Real Madrid 2-0 Alaves

Even with Madrid's injury and suspension problems, it is difficult to imagine Alaves picking up something from this match. Los Blancos could only be a point clear at the summit by the time that they take to the field, but we expect Zidane's side to put another hugely important three points on the board.

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