Whether either man likes it, Malaga and Real Madrid’s clash is billed as Manuel Pellegrini’s chance to seal Jose Mourinho’s fate.
The Special One’s relationship with certain players and other key figures within the club is said to be strained and his credibility was undermined by a 2-2 draw with Espanyol last Sunday which left his side 13 points behind Barcelona.
Ready to twist the knife at La Rosaleda is Pellegrini, Mourinho’s harshly-dismissed predecessor at the Bernabeu, but the Chilean has been his usual dignified self in the build-up.
“I do not think I will be the judge over Mourinho this weekend, we are not approaching it like this. Real Madrid are the stronger team, the favourite.”
Quite aside from the coaching rivalry this is a chance for Pellegrini’s men to draw within two points of Madrid.
“If we play like we are capable of I am sure we can get the three points there,” said Merengues midfielder Luka Modric.
Kick off: Saturday December 22, 7.00 (BST)