Football

Ron poser

Will Ancelotti risk stars Ronaldo and Bale with Bayern clash looming large?

REAL MADRID v OSASUNA

(Tomorrow, 1.25am, SingTel mioTV Ch 115 & StarHub TV Ch 209)

Carlo Ancelotti may show some of his Champions League hand when Real Madrid switch their focus back to the Primera Division this weekend.

After beating Bayern Munich to go 1-0 up in their European semi-final in midweek, Los Blancos are on home soil again, this time against Osasuna.

The challenge for them is to reduce Atletico Madrid's lead at the top of the table to three points before they play Valencia.

GALATICOS

Real have played a game less than their crosscity rivals but, with Atleti running hot, their best chance of adding to the Copa del Rey appears to be in the Champions League.

They will head to Munich after this game and, during the 90 minutes, Ancelotti may give some clues as to what he is thinking for that meeting.

He started with Gareth Bale on the bench on Wednesday, with the flu-ridden former Tottenham man replacing the world's best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, when hewaswithdrawnmidway through the second half.

Now, ahead of a vital return in Germany, all eyes are on how Ancelotti handles his two Galacticos. ''The only risk was that the muscle would be tired so we were always planning on substituting Ronaldo. It's normal that after 20 days out he was not going to be at 100 per cent,'' said Ancelotti.

''Cristiano put in a great shift, he was completely sure he could play and luckily everything worked out nicely.

''Without Bale and with Ronaldo at only 50 per cent it was always going to be tough. Cristiano has done little speed work over the past few days.

''The most important thing is that he played to help us.''

Ancelotti is especially happy that his side are coming to the boil at the conclusion of the season.

Their past two games have seen thembeat Barca to the Copa and then get the edge on Bayern.

''In terms of teamwork, our last two have been our best two games of the season. This team plays with a lot of enthusiasm. Sometimes we're better, sometimes we're worse, but we're always enthusiastic,'' he added.

Opponents Osasuna will be hoping that Real are already thinking of Bayern.

They are three points clear of the relegation zone going into the weekend's fixtures and know that they could be involved in a real struggle if they fail to leave the capital without a point.

Defender Alejandro Arribas said: ''It's best not to look at the last few results of the teams that have been to the Bernabeu, otherwise you won't want to get off the bus.''


FIXTURES
Tonight:

  • Granada v Rayo Vallecano (9.25pm)
  • Getafe v Malaga (11.25pm)

Tomorrow:

  • Real Madrid v Osasuna (1.25am)
  • Real Betis v Real Sociedad (3.25am)
  • Espanyol v Almeria (5.25pm)
  • Valencia v Atletico Madrid (10.30pm)

Monday:

  • Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla (12.55am)
  • Villarreal v Barcelona (2.55am)

Tuesday:

  • Celta Vigo v Valladolid (3.55am)

*All matches will be telecast LIVE on SingTel mio TV Ch 115 & StarHub TV Ch 209