Madrid and Barça in action today - just 23 kilometres apart

The Three Kings bring us some cracking matches to look forward in today’s festive programme. And with the rare occasion of Real Madrid and Barça playing their games almost one after the other, only 23 kilometres apart – and with half an hour spare dash over from one ground to the other. I’m sure that there’ll be more than one person doing just that, although it will probably mean leaving the Bernabéu before the final whistle or getting to the Coliseum with the game already in progress. Events like this don’t happen very often. Before those games, Atlético visit Sevilla which promises to be another appetizing game. So there is plenty of action between the teams in the top part of the table - including Alavés who are sitting comfortably in fourth after seeing off Valencia yesterday.

A draw: two points lost not one gained

The mood at Real Madrid is a bit downbeat after dropping points in Vila-real. I thought Solari was a little off the mark in proclaiming it a decent result. Gaining a draw isn’t the same as back in the olden days when a victory gave you two points, not three. The away team would always argue that a draw was a positive result! But that’s not the case anymore and we’ve become so used to the superiority of the bigger clubs that a draw away from home means practically nothing, unless it’s against a direct rival. It might be handy for those in the middle order but when you drop points, it’s very easy for the teams above you to pull away. Solari also got it wrong when he presumed his side had leapt to fourth (or fifth?). He’s had the benefit of a relatively accessible run of fixtures which the team could have taken advantage of more.

Isco or Vinicius

Today, Madrid are without Bale (and the club actually released an official medical report… wonders never cease!) and also Asensio. We don’t know whether the coach will overturn Isco’s detention or go with Vinicius from the start. The Brazilian is more similar to Bale but I get the feeling the initial buzz surrounding him is now starting to fade. In the back offices of the club there are murmurs of deception. He isn’t making a great impression in training and looked more suited to finding his feet with Castilla. But you never know – maybe he’ll play today and it will be the kickstart he needs. Or perhaps Isco will play – a player who has his work cut out in winning over the coach. Real Sociedad meanwhile have a new coach on board and go into the game with a few players unavailable through injury but for their great history, they are a side who always give a good account of themselves at the Bernabéu.