Rafael Benitez could take charge of his last Real Madrid match should the Spanish giants fail to end a ridiculous slump to see off humble city rivals Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
Madrid have lost three of their last five league games to slip five points behind leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid with Benitez rumoured to be one more defeat away from the sack.
However, it would take a monumental collapse for Real to fail to add to a run of 14 consecutive wins against Rayo stretching back over 15 years.
Barca’s participation in the Club World Cup this weekend does at least allow Madrid to cut the gap on one of their title rivals before La Liga shuts down for 10 days over Christmas.
Moreover, Benitez could have a fully-fit squad to choose from as Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal stepped up their recovery from injury this week.
Toni Kroos was surprisingly left out of the starting line-up for the 1-0 defeat at Villarreal last weekend amid rumours of a bust up with Benitez.
The German international also missed training on Thursday due to the flu, but is expected to be fit should Benitez wish to recall him.
Madrid’s problems appear minimal compared to Rayo, who have slipped into the relegation zone after three consecutive league defeats.
Paco Jemez’s men did reach the last 16 of the Copa del Rey on away goals on Wednesday, despite losing 3-1 at Getafe. Yet the performance offered Jemez little hope ahead of the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I would swap Madrid’s crisis for ours,” he said.
“If we play like we did against Malaga or today (Wednesday), we can’t even compete against a second division team.
“If we play like we did against Villarreal, Espanyol, Las Palmas or Valencia then yes we will be competitive (against Madrid).”
Atletico are guaranteed to be at least joint top at Christmas, but Diego Simeone’s men can take top spot on their own for the first time since they claimed the title against all odds 18 months ago should they avoid defeat at Malaga on Sunday.
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