Real Madrid host Valencia on Saturday night, hoping to return to winning ways in La Liga.
Carlo Ancelotti's men suffered a shock defeat as they came back from the winter break, losing 1-0 at Getafe to get 2022 off to a poor start.
However, Los Blancos still hold a five-point cushion (having played a game more, though) at the summit and have already bounce back well from that slip-up, beating Alcoyano 3-1 to secure progression in the Copa del Rey last time out.
Beating Cartegena 2-1 in midweek, Valencia also went through to the next round in the cup and had started to pick up form before the winter break.
A three-match winning run, however, was ended by a 2-1 defeat to Espanyol on New Year's Eve that signalled that there was still plenty of work for Jose Bordalas to do for the Bats to achieve the consistency required to push for a European place.
Here's 90min's preview of this La Liga clash.
How to watch Real Madrid vs Valencia on TV
When is kick off? Saturday 8 January, 20:00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
What TV channel is it on? LaLigaTV (UK), ESPN+ (US)
Highlights? La Liga Santander YouTube channel
Who's the referee? Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez
Real Madrid team news
Ancelotti will have to make do without Dani Carvajal, Mariano Diaz and Gareth Bale who all miss out through injury and fitness issues, while Luka Jovic will be absent after returning a positive Covid-19 result.
There is expected to be a huge reshuffle from the rotated side that beat Alcoyano in midweek, meaning returns to the lineup for the likes of Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, while Vinicius Junior should also be involved following an absence through Covid-19.
Read 90min's predicted lineup here
Valencia team news
There will also be wholesale changed for Valencia, who rotated heavily for their own Copa del Rey clash in midweek.
Having said that, Hugo Duro will be unavailable for selection due to suspension, while Gabriel Paulista, Dimitri Foulquier and Toni Lato all miss out through injury.
Real Madrid vs Valencia head to head record
These two heavyweights of Spanish football have met each other a whopping 195 times in competitive action, with Real Madrid impressively winning 102 times compared to Valencia's 53 victories.
The Bats only victory in the previous six encounters came during the 2019/20 season when they thrashed Los Blancos 4-1.
Saturday night's hosts, however, have generally dominated this fixture and are on a two-match winning streak at the moment - most recently beating Valencia 2-1 away from home earlier in the campaign.
Real Madrid vs Valencia score prediction
While Ancelotti's men suffered a blip in the previous La Liga outing, they've already shown this term how fiercely strong they are in composure and character to bounce back. The last time they lost they embarked upon a 15-match unbeaten run, winning 13 in the process.
So Valencia, who themselves showed good form before losing on the resumption of the season, should be wary of a reaction from Real.
While Bordalas' side boast great quality and are certainly able to push for European qualification, Ancelotti's men should simply have too much for them to handle on the day.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Valencia