La Liga Preview: Real want revenge against Socieded
La Liga leaders Real Madrid will be keen on revenge when they take on Real Sociedad in Spain's capital on Saturday, while Valencia face a tough trip to Malaga.
Sociedad stunned Carlo Ancelotti's side 4-2 in San Sebastian in just the second round of the 2014-15 season - the first of two consecutive defeats for the capital club as they lost 2-1 to cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid a fortnight later.
Real responded with a 22-match winning run in all competitions, helping them to the top of La Liga, but have been criticised in the first month of 2015 for a perceived lack of form.
Having lost a friendly to Milan before the Spanish top flight resumed in January, Real followed that defeat with a loss at Valencia and elimination from the Copa del Rey at the hands of Atletico.
But Gareth Bale, who scored the winner in Real's 2-1 triumph at Cordoba last week, believes all teams go through rough patches and is confident he and his team-mates will improve soon.
Real's record since the winter break is three wins, two defeats and a draw in all competitions.
"I'm not too sure [why there has been a slump]," Bale told Cadena SER.
"If we knew we could easily fix it.
"There are phases in a season and the main thing is to know how to deal with it."
Sociedad have lost on their last five trips to the Santiago Bernabeu but if they manage to avoid defeat, second-placed Barcelona – just a point behind the European champions - will look to pounce when they host Villarreal on Sunday.
Valencia, who defeated Sevilla 3-1 last week to leapfrog them into fourth in the table, will face another test when they travel to seventh-placed Malaga on Monday.
While Malaga have only won one of their past four league matches at home, Valencia have not tasted success at the Estadio La Rosaleda since 2010.
But as they are in the midst of a seven-game unbeaten run in La Liga, Valencia will be confident of knocking off Javi Gracia's team.
Sevilla will look to bounce back from their loss to Valencia when they host Espanyol, while Celta Vigo - who are on a 10-game winless run - desperately need three points against Cordoba.
Rayo Vallecano will start the round on Friday with a match against Deportivo La Coruna, while reigning champions Atleti visit Eibar on Saturday.
Bottom club Granada will take on Elche, who sit just above the drop zone, Levante host Athletic Bilbao and Getafe visit Almeria.