Dressing room politics at the Bernabéu are becoming more complicated with each passing day, and thanks to an inexplicable electrical fault at Rayo Vallecano last night, another has indeed passed before today's rescheduled La Liga bout. The subplots make for an interesting season; it's a psychology test trying to define which press conferences are honest or mind games, and which media leaks are intentional or unintentional.
After the Sevilla game, José Mourinho questioned the commitment of the Spanish players - Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa had done publicity for football boots the day before the match. The players are unsurprisingly unhappy with the public criticism, though that seems unlikely to stop any time soon. "It is about a state of mind and two or three who aren't thinking like the rest. They are the minds of players who are not committed and for whom football is not a priority in their lives," hissed José.
Conclusions as to which players manager was referring to continued with the removal of Sergio Ramos from the first eleven against Manchester City. Apparently the decision was based only on footballing matters, so we'll assume the defender will come into the starting line-up. At least one of Mesut Özil or Luka Modrić will return.
Ruben Martinez should return in-goal for Rayo after being suspended for the Atlético Madrid game. Alejandro Dominguez, Andrija Delibasic and Lass Bangoura all made positive impressions, putting them in contention for starting berths.
It's Mourinho's worst start to a season in his managerial career. There was a similar feeling when he was at Chelsea, with events unfolding off the pitch resulting in his departure. Their midweek win showed spirit and character, but still displayed huge frailties.
Rayo should have been dead and buried against Atléti; at 4-0 down they could have allowed heads to drop and minds to wander. However, they showed pride and professionalism to pull themselves back to within a goal at the final whistle, following a ten-minute comeback. It was their first defeat of a season in which they have performed remarkably.
In the last five meetings between the two teams in Vallecas, the scoreline has twice been 0-1 and twice been 2-3. The latter can be obtained at a nicely priced 20.00. Real's 6-2 win at home last September was out of sync with the rest of the recent games.
Karim Benzema offered fresh impetus on Tuesday evening. If he is given the green light for this one, you can get 4.70 for him as first scorer or 6.00 for at least two goals. A headline-grabbing Ramos first goal can be backed at 17.00.
Andrija Delibasic notched his 2nd and 3rd goals of the season last week, having started all three of his appearances from the bench. He is 14.00 for last goal.
Real Madrid have lost all three away from home this campaign. They surely can't continue in such a poor run of results, though, and this has to be the time for them to bounce back with a victory at 1.27.
There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Rayo Vallecano's last three home games in the league. With Los Blancos short of top form it might be worth trying the under 2.5 line at 2.65.
Rayo Vallecano 1-3 Real Madrid (11.00)