By Tim Stannard
With no Sergio Ramos to convert VAR gifts, Real Madrid's sprint finish to the title could be a slog
So far, Real Madrid has reached perfection in LaLiga's grand post-pandemic restart.
Seven matches and seven wins. Some of the victories haven't exactly been easy on the eye and the last two against Athletic Club and Getafe have relied on late interventions from VAR to award penalties for Sergio Ramos to convert. But perfection none the less in terms of results.
But Sergio Ramos isn't going to be there for Friday's match against Alaves due to suspension. It's a game where a win is needed to extend Madrid's lead at the top of the table back to four points, after Barcelona's victory over Espanyol on Wednesday.
In fact, Dani Carvajal won't be there in the backline either due to suspension. Nor will Nacho who is still injured. Marcelo is potentially a doubt as well with the Brazilian having missed training on Thursday and undergoing further tests on Friday. However, Raphael Varane is back after suffering a neck injury.
There are issues up front too for Real Madrid with Sports Burst really raining on the league leader's parade today.
Eden Hazard is a major doubt once again having missed the past two matches with trouble on his right ankle and was unable to finish training on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Vinicius Junior did not train on Thursday and will need further fitness tests. The troublesome Luka Jovic is in isolation (of course) and having been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and Karim Benzema has not scored in four games.
Coach Zizou was well aware of all these challenges and had the same mantra ahead of the Alaves match as previous games. "We have won nothing," was the reminder from the Real Madrid coach.
The Sports Burst live show will either be hitting the panic button or soothing the nerves at 12PM ET on our beIN SPORTS Facebook page or beIN XTRA channel.
Leganes and Mallorca fight against sharing Espanyol's fate
Still, things could be an awful lot worse for Real Madrid. The team could be in Espanyol's place, which is now going to be in Spain's second tier next season after suffering relegation at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday - a double whammy.
Two teams are in action today trying to avoid that fate. If second-from-bottom Leganes fail to beat Eibar, a side just out of the relegation zone, then the Madrid outfit lead by the maverick Mexican, Javier Aguirre, really does look like toast. Coverage of that match gets underway at 1PM ET on beIN SPORTS.
Our Spanish sister channel is offering up another team in deep do-do - Mallorca, which needs to beat Levante to have any chance of survival against the drop.
It's a great day to watch LIVE soccer 💥🔥 pic.twitter.com/3fUzZJ6Ji9— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) July 9, 2020
Then, the day's big cheeses get into gear. Sevilla may have been thinking that fourth place and a Champions League spot was in the bag. Not so fast, after Villarreal defeated Getafe in a feisty affair on Wednesday that saw four red cards at the end of the game and the police involved. Fun!
Sevilla only have a three-point lead and have to defend it in San Mames against an Athletic Club side with a chance of reaching the Europa League spots. Coverage begins at 3:30PM ET on beIN SPORTS.
MLS restarts with Black Lives Matter protest
The MLS is Back tournament got off to an emotional and powerful start in Orlando on Wednesday evening, as over 100 Black MLS players performed a silent protest for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to support the Black Lives Matter movement, ahead of the competition's opener between Orlando City and Inter Miami.
Despite taking the lead in the inaugural Florida derby, Orlando City prevailed with a late winner for Nani in a 2-1 victory over the Inter Miami franchise still searching for its first MLS victory.
Thursday morning sees an early kick off for NYCFC against Philadelphia Union. However, that could come at the same time a decision being made on Nashville SC joining FC Dallas in dropping out of the competition after the Tennessee side announced that nine players had tested positive for COVID-19, almost a third of the squad's roster.