Preview: Real Madrid v Deportivo Alaves

Real Madrid will no doubt look to continue their recent improvement when they face an in-form Deportivo Alaves side in Saturday's La Liga clash at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. 
La Liga
Date: 24 February 2018 
Match Day 25
Kick-off: 15H15 local time
Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 
Referee: J. Estrada
Assistants: M. Martinez, F. Martin
Fourth official: J. Iglesias 
Head-to-head summary: 
TEAM               MATCHES  WIN   DRAW   LOSS
Real 15 12 2 1               
Alaves 15 1 2 12

Previous encounter: 
Deportivo Alaves 1-2 Real Madrid 23/09/17 (La Liga)
Alaves goalscorer: Manu Garcia (40') 
Real goalscorer:  Dani Ceballos (10') (43')  
Players to watch: 
Fresh off a break midweek during Real's 3-1 win over Leganes, Cristiano Ronaldo will be fit and raring to go as he looks to continue his recent prolific form. After a slow start to 2017/18, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has now hit 26 goals in 30 appearances for Los Blancos. The Portuguese will no doubt want to get himself back into the race for the Pichichi, though he trails Lionel Messi by eight goals. 
With 10 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions for Babazorros, Munir El Haddadi is showing why Alaves decided to take the 22-year-old on loan from Barcelona, however, he misses the game through suspension. This means the likes of Ruben Sobrino and John Guidetti may have to come to the party in attack. Between them they've managed just one goal in 20 league starts meaning Saturday's encounter is a big opportunity. 
Team form and manager quotes: 
For the home side, manager Zinedine Zidane has overseen a run of four wins in a row including a 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. With the title all but sealed by rivals Barcelona, securing a top four spot appears a priority. 
Nonetheless, despite the pressure mounting on the Frenchman, he says his team want to maintain momentum. He told reporters: "We want to continue. We have had complicated moments and we have to take advantage to continue.
"There are a group of 25 players here, they know it's difficult. What matters is that they are very good and they show that when they have to play."
Meanwhile, Alaves boss Abelardo is in bullish mode ahead of the game after his club picked up three wins in a row coming into the contest. 
The outfit from the Basque Country are in 15th place on 28 points and appear well on course of achieving their target of avoiding relegation.
He told Mundo Deportivo: "From there, we know that several conditions have to be given to win, but we can achieve it. We do not renounce anything. We travel knowing that it is difficult, but with the intention of winning." 

Team news: 
For Madrid, centre-back Sergio Ramos misses out through suspension while Gareth Bale is expected to return after only making the bench against Leganes. 
Marcelo is out while playmaker Luka Modric is still absent with a hamstring concern.
Deportivo will have to look at other ways of scoring goals as top marksman Munir is missing through suspension. Other than that, the visitors have virtually a fully fit squad available.