Real Madrid face tough battle against Vallecano

Last Updated: Sep 22, 2012, 16:46 PM IST

Madrid: Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho will answer a lot of questions when he names his side to face Rayo Vallecano Sunday evening.

Mourinho`s decision to leave Sergio Ramos out of the side that defeated Manchester City Tuesday has served to once again imply there are serious problems in the Madrid dressing room with poor relations between the Spanish and Portuguese players in the squad, as reported by a news agency.

The Madrid coach had criticized his squad prior to the Manchester City match, saying some had a poor attitude and his decision to leave out Ramos appears to point the finger at the Spain international.

Cristiano Ronaldo`s late goal saw Madrid take a much needed win in the Champions League, but it was also noted that goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the club captain, failed to celebrate any of his side`s goals Tuesday.

Now Madrid make a short trip to the south of the capital to take on Rayo Vallecano, who can be tough to beat in the small Vallecas Stadium.

Madrid could travel 11 points behind title rivals, FC Barcelona, who should take all three points off Granada Saturday night, meaning anything other than a win for Mourinho`s side would be a disaster, especially as they travel to the Camp Nou in a fortnight.

If Mourinho`s decides to maintain his punishment for Ramos, that will see Rafael Varene continue in central defence with Michael Essien forming part of a three-man central midfield, which means Madrid lose creativity as Mesut Ozil is another player who looks to have earned his coach`s displeasure in recent weeks.

Gonzalo Higuain will probably continue in attack, but the Argentinean is under pressure from Karim Benzema after the Frenchman scored his first goal since May last Tuesday, while Higuain has been wasteful in front of goal in recent appearances.

As usual Cristiano Ronaldo will play on the left of the Madrid attack with Angel de Maria on the right, with Mourinho hoping their pace will make the difference against Rayo, who will be organised in defence and looking to play direct football in front of a crowd that will be distinctly hostile to Ronaldo and company.