La Liga Preview: Almeria start post-Francisco era against Real Madrid

Struggling Almeria face an uphill task on Friday as they welcome leaders Real Madrid to Estadio de los Juegos without a permanent coach.

Almeria sit just above La Liga's drop zone in 17th place by virtue of goal difference and opted to sack boss Francisco following a 5-2 hammering at the hands of Eibar on Monday. 

With Francisco leaving the club on Tuesday, match preparations have been taken by first-team coach Sergio Pardo and reserve boss Miguel Rivera.

While the club stated its confidence that a permanent coach would be in place by the time they face Real, any incumbent faces a stern test to get anything from a clash with Carlo Ancelotti's men. 

Real sealed their perfect qualification from Group B in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday with a 4-0 win over Ludogorets and set a new Spanish record of 19 consecutive wins in all competitions in the process.

"We are enjoying a great moment: the players, the technical staff and the club, which has always supported us," Ancelotti said.

"We have to keep this moment going."

With Real playing first in La Liga's matchday 15, a win would keep the heat on Barcelona in second, with Luis Enrique's charges travelling to mid-table Getafe while third-placed Atletico Madrid host Villarreal. 

The top three have all taken maximum points from their last three league outings. At the opposite end of the table, bottom side Elche take on Deportivo La Coruna in 19th on Monday.

Only goal difference separates the sides in a congested bottom four that could be much-changed come the end of the clash at the Riazor.

Cordoba - also in the drop zone - welcome an improving Levante side who have taken eight of their 13 points in the last five games. 

Valencia can ensure a first league win in more than a month when they face Rayo Vallecano at the Mestalla while also looking to put pressure on Sevilla in the final UEFA Champions League spot.

Regardless, Unai Emery's side will at least be in fourth place come the end of the weekend, although they could close the gap to Atletico in third with victory over Eibar. 

Elsewhere, Real Sociedad and Espanyol welcome Athletic Bilbao and Granada respectively while Celta Vigo travel to Malaga.