Hello all! Sports Mole's live La Liga coverage continues this evening as Almeria welcome the leaders Real Madrid. Right, before we get down to the details ahead of the match, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos.
ALMERIA: Ruben; Michel, Ximo, Trujillo, Velez; Verza, Thomas, Edgar, Dubarbier, Soriano; Hemed
REAL: Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Isco, Illarra; Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale
So there we have it. Tomer Hemed will lead the line for the home side this evening, with vice-captain Fernando Soriano providing support from a deeper position. There is also a spot in the XI for on-loan Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey, who will be keen to impress, but forwards Jonathan Zongo and Wellington Silva, who is on loan from Arsenal, are both named on the bench for the hosts.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are without the suspended Sergio Ramos. As a result, young Frenchman Raphael Varane starts alongside Pepe at centre-back. James Rodriguez and Luka Modric are both injured, meaning starts for Isco and Asier Illarramendi. The remainder of the Los Blancos side is as expected.
Almeria have only won one of their last 10 La Liga meetings with Real Madrid – losing seven times in the process. In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, Real Madrid have won four of the last five. Last season, they won 5-0 in this stadium, before recording a 4-0 victory at the Bernabeu.
In truth, it has been a difficult start to the season for Almeria, with just 10 points from 14 games leaving them just outside of the relegation zone in 17th position. On Monday, they were beaten 5-2 at Eibar, with that match bringing about the dismissal of their manager Francisco. As a result, Miguel Rivera has been placed in temporary control this evening, but former Real Valladolid boss Juan Ignacio Martinez will take charge after this match. It is a big job for the 50-year-old Spaniard.
Incredibly, Almeria still have not won at home in the league this season – collecting just three points from their seven matches in this stadium. Goals have also been an issue on their own patch, with only five strikes to their name. That said, they have conceded only nine at home thus far.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are absolutely flying at the moment. Los Blancos have won their last 19 games in all competitions, with that run of form seeing the capital outfit top their Champions League group, advance in the Copa del Rey and sit top of La Liga after 14 matches of the season. As it stands, they are two points clear of second-place Barcelona, who have 34 points after the same number of games.
Last time out in the league, Carlo Ancelotti's side were 3-0 winners over Celta Vigo, with Cristiano Ronaldo
netting a record-breaking 23rd La Liga hat-trick. That particular treble made it 23 league goals for the Portuguese this season. On the road, Real Madrid have won six of their seven league games this season, scoring 27 times and conceding just seven in the process - some record.
PREDICTION! In truth, I am finding it very difficult to make a case for Almeria tonight. A change in manager might give them a lift, but they are facing the best team in world football this evening. Real Madrid are in such good form and I think that the visitors will run out 3-0 winners.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. It is a really big ask for Almeria this evening - how will they fare? It is the home side that get the first half of action underway in Almeria.
It has been a decent start from the home side, with Hemed already causing problems in the final third of the field. Verza breaks down the left for Almeria before sliding a pass towards Mendez, but Pepe is across to clear the danger. Real Madrid are yet to really settle in the opening three minutes.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the home side to take the lead as Dubarbier meets a loose ball inside the box, but his effort is blocked by Carvajal. It looked to be heading in!
Real Madrid's first dangerous moment comes down the left as Bale drives past two challenges before delivering a cross towards Ronaldo, but Velez is on hand to make the clearance. It has been a very bright start to proceedings here, with both sides showing their willingness to commit players forward.
Real Madrid are not entirely comfortable at the moment as Almeria continue to force the issue in a wide area. A cross from Mendez is missed by Varane, but Carvajal is on the cover to clear. Thomas has a half-chance for the home side moments later, but his effort was always rising high of the crossbar.
Real Madrid have a free kick in a dangerous area as Michel brings Benzema to the ground...
... the resulting free kick is delivered by Kroos, but Pepe cannot get enough on the cross and Almeria clear the danger. Nervy moments for the home side, but they manage to repel the pressure.
Real Madrid have just started to take control of proceedings in the middle of the park, but the away side are yet to create a clear chance. It has been a positive start from the home side, but you have to worry about them at the back - they are already leaving spaces for the league leaders to exploit.
BOOKING! Verza (Almeria) goes into the book for a late challenge on Ronaldo.
Half-chance for Real Madrid as Ronaldo drives down the left before floating a cross towards the far post, but Michel is on hand to clear for a corner. More danger for Almeria with 13 minutes played.
CROSSBAR! Real Madrid again come close as Kroos meets a loose punch from Ruben, but the German's effort deflects off the crossbar. The pressure is really on at the moment.
Ronaldo and Bale continue to threaten in wide areas, with the former delivering a cross towards Benzema, but the Frenchman had just moved into an offside position. Almeria are down the other end with Mendez moments later, but the Spaniard cannot evade the challenge of Illarramendi.
Half-chance for the home side this time, but Hemed's header is straight at Casillas from inside the box. It has been a very bright opening 17 minutes, with both sides forcing the issue in the final third.
CHANCE! Another chance for the away side as Bale finds all sorts of space inside the Almeria box, but his low cross is too strong for Benzema. A shot at goal might have been better!
Almeria just cannot seem to get out of their own half at the moment as the pressure continues from wide areas, but neither Bale nor Ronaldo have been able to find that telling cross thus far. It has been a very bright 21 minutes, but still the score remains 0-0, which is all that matters for the home side.
Just a reminder that this is Real Madrid's final league match of 2014, with the Spanish club travelling to Morocco for the Club World Cup next week. The pressure continues from the visitors as Carvajal stands up a cross towards Benzema, but there are no takers on the Frenchman's flick-down.
BOOKING! Bale (Real Madrid) is booked for a late tackle on Velez.
Possession football from the away side as they continue to exploit the space in the final third, but the latest attack comes to an end when Marcelo is challenged by Mendez. Almeria are down the other end with Hemed moments later, but Kroos comes across to clear and starts another counter attack.
Not too much to report in terms of clear chances in the last couple of minutes, with the home side defending the edge of their own box. Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining in Almeria.
BOOKING! Dubarbier (Almeria) is booked for a late challenge on Pepe.
There have been a number of tasty challenges in the opening 33 minutes, but the referee has always been on hand to calm developments. The chances have been few and far between since Real Madrid hit the crossbar, with the visitors guilty of conceding possession too easily in the final third of the field.
GOAL! Almeria 0-1 Real Madrid (Isco)
Beautiful, just beautiful from Isco. The away side have the lead as Isco works some space inside the box before curling one into the far corner. It is just stunning from the Spanish attacker.
Well, Almeria have played pretty well in the first period, but they are now in big trouble. Real Madrid will want a second in the final 10 minutes of the half. Can Almeria resist the pressure?
Half-chance for the home side as Hemed meets a cross from Dubarbier, but the striker's header was always moving wide of the post. Almeria have had bits and pieces thus far, without really threatening to breach the Real Madrid goal. Little over five minutes of the first period remaining here.
GOAL! Almeria 1-1 Real Madrid (Verza)
WOW! Verza has just outdone Isco! Almeria are level here as Verza rifles one into the bottom corner from all of 30 yards. Casillas just could not get down quick enough and we are all level here!
Real Madrid are on the attack once more as Carvajal drives down the right before delivering towards Benzema, but Velez is on hand to clear. The resulting corner is delivered towards Pepe, but once again the danger is cleared. Real Madrid are threatening to regain the lead in the first period.
GOAL! Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid (Bale)
And there is the goal! Real Madrid do indeed regain the lead as Bale heads a Kroos cross into the back of the net. The Welshman was unmarked inside the box and flicked one into the bottom corner.
Almeria threaten with a wide free kick from Verza, but Casillas is on hand to collect before releasing Bale down the other end. Well, it has been some last 10 minutes here hasn't it!
HALF-TIME: Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with Real Madrid leading 2-1. A wonderful strike from Verza cancelled out a 34th-minute Isco effort, but Bale made it 2-1 late in the first period. It has been a first half full of action and chances. Let's hope for more of the same in the second!
STATS! Real Madrid have dominated the possession with 66%, while they have had three attempts - two of which have been on target and indeed resulted in goals. Almeria, meanwhile, have hit the target with two of their seven attempts. The home side are well in this match make no mistake.
BENCH WATCH! The home side have a number of attacking players on their bench this evening, with Corona, Silva and Zongo among those in reserve. Real Madrid, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Hernandez, Jese and Medran - who scored his first Real Madrid goal on Tuesday.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. I would be astounded if we had seen the last of the goals! The away side get the second 45 minutes underway.
No changes from either manager at the break, which is not much of a surprise. However, I suspect alterations will be made if the score remains 2-1 for the next 20 minutes or so. Can Almeria respond?
The attendance has been confirmed at little under 14,000, but the supporters have been in good voice this evening. Not too much to report in terms of chances in the second period, but Almeria have made a bright start to the half, with Thomas seeing plenty of the ball in the middle of the park.
Dubarbier threatens down the left for the home side, but Carvajal comes across to make a fine challenge. Real Madrid are down the other end moments later as Benzema wins a corner from Michel, but the danger is cleared. Six minutes into the second period and the score remains 2-1 Real Madrid.
BOOKING! Soriano (Almeria) is booked for a trip on Benzema.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Real Madrid to score their third as Bale breaks away from the Almeria defence, but the Welshman's low effort just moves wide of the post. The cross to Ronaldo was on, but Bale decided to go alone, much to the frustration of the Portuguese. What a chance!
Almeria continue to threaten in wide areas with Dubarbier and Verza both advanced, but Real Madrid manage to repel the danger once more. It is end-to-end at the moment and Real Madrid have such pace on the counter - Isco delivers a low cross towards Ronaldo, but Velez is on hand to clear.
Half-chance for the home side as Verza picks out Soriano with a low cross, but the skipper's effort is just wide of the post. Down the other end, Ruben beats away a long-range effort from Ronaldo.
BOOKING! Marcelo (Real Madrid) is booked for a pull on Mendez.
Real Madrid goes down inside the Almeria box under a challenge from Michel, but the referee is not interested. Ronaldo is very, very frustrated at the moment - he still hasn't scored, shock!
SUB! Almeria make their first change as Zongo replaces Dubarbier.
Mendez continues to threaten for the home side as the Spaniard delivers another low cross from the right, but Varane is on hand to clear the danger. Zongo has brought some pace to the Almeria attack and the home side will look to use that avenue in the remaining 30 minutes of this match.
Almeria have a penalty as Marcelo brings Mendez down inside the box. It was a tangle of legs, but it did appear a little soft. What a chance for the home side to level the scores here.
SAVE! Verza takes the spot-kick, but Casillas is across to save. Wow!
BOOKING! Velez (Almeria) is booked for a foul on Ronaldo.
Another half-chance for Real Madrid as Kroos delivers a wonderful free kick towards Bale, but Velez is on hand to clear under his own crossbar. The pressure continues from the resulting corner, but Isco eventually bends one wide of the post. What a final 25 minutes we could have here!
Ronaldo is again involved for Real Madrid as the Portuguese finds space inside the box, but his low effort is deflected wide of the post. It is a really good spell for the visitors at the moment...
SUB! Almeria make their second change as Soriano is replaced by Wellington.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the home side as Wellington finds Silva with a brilliant low cross, but the midfielder cannot make proper contact and Real Madrid have a goal kick. It must be said that the league leaders have not looked comfortable defensively this evening.
Still no movement on the Real Madrid bench, which is a surprise at this stage of the match. Ronaldo has another half-chance for the visitors, but his low effort is straight into the arms of Ruben.
Ronaldo has another sight of goal on the edge of the box, but the attacker slices his volley - it has not been Ronaldo's evening until this point, but there are still 15 minutes to play here.
Pepe has the chance to break into the Almeria box after another Almeria attack comes to an end, but Ximo makes up a lot of ground to challenge the centre-back. Benzema has the chance to fire one from the edge of the box moments later, but his effort was always moving high of the crossbar.
BOOKING! Ronaldo (Real Madrid) is booked for a late challenge on Ximo.
Little over 10 minutes of football remaining and Almeria are still well in this match. There is still no movement on the Real Madrid bench, which is a surprise at this stage of proceedings.
Another half-chance for Real Madrid as Marcelo combines with Isco before rolling a low cross into the box, but Michel is across to make the challenge. The resulting corner is played short, and Bale ends up offside. You just get the feeling that there is at least one more goal in this match this evening.
GOAL! Almeria 1-3 Real Madrid (Ronaldo)
It hasn't quite been Ronaldo's night, but of course he scores! It is brilliant work from Ronaldo, who finds Benzema with a through pass before Benzema returns the favour for the Portuguese. A slick goal, which also involved Bale. That should be enough to claim all the points here.
SUB! Almeria make their third change as Corona replaces Velez.
SUB! Real Madrid make their first change as Coentrao replaces Benzema.
Almeria have put so much into this match, but they are going to fall just short. There are positives moving forward, however, with Real Madrid having a serious test in Almeria this evening.
GOAL! Almeria 1-4 Real Madrid (Ronaldo)
Ronaldo has his 32nd goal of the season as the Portuguese converts from inside the box following a wonderful run from Carvajal. Almeria have fallen apart here.
CHANCE! Bale has a wonderful chance to make it five for the away side after driving into the box, but his first effort is saved by Ruben, before the Welshman curls one just wide.
Real Madrid are running riot as Isco has an effort from outside the box, but Ruben makes the save. Almeria have just stopped playing in the last few minutes, which is quite incredible.
FULL-TIME: Almeria 1-4 Real Madrid
So there we have it. Real Madrid move five points clear at the top of La Liga with a 4-1 win over Almeria. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Good evening!