Good afternoon and welcome to Sports Mole's live commentary of the La Liga clash between Huesca and Real Madrid from the Estadio El Alcoraz. This afternoon will bring the first ever meeting between the two teams in their respective histories. Real Madrid are currently fifth in Spain's top flight, eight points off leaders Barcelona. Huesca, meanwhile, are rooted to the bottom of the table on seven points. Stay tuned for live minute-by-minute updates of the action!
As mentioned, this afternoon will be the first ever meeting between Huesca and Real Madrid, although Real Madrid Castilla recorded a 5-1 win over Huesca back in April 2013. It is a special occasion for Huesca, and it would be some story if they could pick up a result here.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news. Both managers are without some key players this afternoon... let's have a look at the selections.
HUESCA (5-3-2): Jovanovic; Miramon, Insua, Pulido, Etxeita, Ferreiro; Rivera, Aguilera, Gomez; Chimy, Hernandez
REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Odriozola; Modric, Llorente, Ceballos; Bale, Benzema, Vazquez
Luisinho and Ruben Semedo are both on the sidelines for Huesca, who will line up in a 5-3-2 formation. On-loan Watford forward Cucho Hernandez is joined in the final third by Chimy Avila, while Moi Gomez and David Ferreiro are both included. Six of the XI are at Huesca on loan.
Real Madrid boss Solari is without two of his first-choice midfield three, with Toni Kroos joining Casemiro on the sidelines. Marco Asensio scored twice in Thursday's 6-1 win over Melilla in the Copa del Rey, but Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente join Luka Modric in midfield. Lucas Vazquez was on the scoresheet in the 2-0 win over Valencia last weekend, meanwhile, and the Spaniard keeps his position in the XI. The likes of Thibaut Courtois, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale played no part against Melilla during the week, but start this afternoon. Marcelo, though, is still out.
When considering that Real Madrid have lost five of their 14 league matches this season, it is incredible that they are only eight points off the lead at this stage. Los Blancos really should be out of the title race, but that would not be the case if they win this afternoon.
It has been a turbulent start to the 2018-19 campaign, with the club not coping too well since Zinedine Zidane and indeed a certain Cristiano Ronaldo left the club. The experiment of Julen Lopetegui did not work, but Solari appears to have steadiest the ship since his arrival.
Solari has won seven of his eight matches in charge of Real Madrid, the last of which was a 6-1 victory over Melilla in the second leg of their last-32 Copa del Rey clash on Thursday. The only blot on Solari's record was the 3-0 defeat at Eibar in the league on November 24.
Since then, Los Blancos have beaten Roma, Valencia and Melilla. The 2-0 victory over Valencia last weekend made it three successes from their last four league fixtures, and they currently sit fifth in the table on 23 points. As mentioned, Real Madrid are eight points off the leaders Barcelona, and five points off Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, who sit second and third.
Solari's side face Huesca here and then host Rayo Vallecano in their final league game before heading to the United Arab Emirates for the 2018 Club World Cup. Can they triumph in that competition once again? The atmosphere is really building here as kickoff draws closer.
It has been a difficult few months for Real Madrid, but a strong end to 2018 – including landing another Club World Cup – would set them up nicely heading into 2019. It could yet be a successful campaign for the club, who are chasing a fourth straight Champions League title.
There will once again be eyes on Gareth Bale this weekend, with the Welshman going through a difficult patch. Bale has only managed three league goals this season, but might see this clash as the perfect chance to boost his tally. Bale is in attack with Benzema and Vazquez.
As recent as 2004, Huesca were competing in the fourth tier of Spanish football, but the Aragon-based club now find themselves in La Liga. It has been some rise to this level of football when considering that they were in the Segunda B division three years ago.
After finishes of 12th and sixth in the Segunda, Huesca earned promotion to La Liga courtesy of a second-placed finish last season. The team were tipped to struggle at the start of the campaign, and that has indeed proved to be the case up until this point.
Indeed, Huesca have won just one of their 14 La Liga matches this season, drawing four and losing nine. They have only scored 12 times, which is the second-worst record in the division, and have the worst defensive record with 29 goals conceded in their 14 matches to date.
Huesca's sole league win actually arrived on the opening weekend of the campaign away to Eibar, but it has been a real struggle since then. Francisco's team suffered a 2-0 defeat away to Celta Vigo last weekend, and were thumped 4-0 by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
Huesca have a tough finish to 2018 when considering that their next two after this one are against Villarreal and Valencia. Those two have struggled this season, but are still two of the most dangerous teams in Spain's top flight. Kickoff is less than 15 minutes away now!
This afternoon will be a historic occasion for Huesca, but there are three important points to be won. Francisco's team are already seven points off the safety of 17th position.
Huesca suffered a 8-2 defeat when they travelled to Barcelona earlier this season, and face the other of La Liga's giant two here. It will be a packed house at the tiny El Alcoraz, and it would go down as one of the most famous afternoons in their history if three points could be secured.
PREDICTION! Real Madrid will be far too strong for a out-of-form Huesca on the afternoon. We fancy a routine 3-0 win for the European champions.
Jovanovic; Miramon, Insua, Pulido, Etxeita, Ferreiro; Rivera, Aguilera, Gomez; Chimy, Hernandez
REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Odriozola; Modric, Llorente, Ceballos; Bale, Benzema, Vazquez
Here we go then; both sets of players have joined us on the pitch ahead of kickoff this afternoon. It is Huesca versus Real Madrid in La Liga - let's hope for an entertaining game!
KICKOFF: Huesca kick things off on home soil...
... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium this afternoon. It is very, very windy though, which should create some interesting set pieces here.
Smart goalkeeping from Jovanovic, who manages to beat Benzema to a long throw from Bale. Real Madrid are the team making the early running, but no real opportunities thus far here.
Carvajal is actually at left-back for Real Madrid this afternoon, with Odriozola playing on the right. Just a reminder that Marcelo and Nacho are both injured for the European champions.
It has been a good eight minutes from Huesca, who have certainly settled. It is almost like an FA Cup tie between a Premier League giant and a Conference side. That type of atmosphere.
CHANCE! Big chance for Huesca as Etxeita finds himself free inside the Real Madrid box, but the defender heads wide of the post. Almost the opening goal here.
GOAL! HUESCA 0-1 REAL MADRID (BALE)
Brilliant from Bale, who cushions a cross from Odriozola into the bottom corner of the match. Excellent, excellent volley from the Wales international, and that is 1-0.
Huesca just need to be careful here. The players are all hyped up and chasing every ball, which is leaving so much space for Real Madrid. There are a lot more goals to be had here.
The wind is in the faces of Huesca, which is making it difficult for the home side to press up the field. Real Madrid are certainly on the front foot here as they look for a second goal.
Avila and Cucho are doing their best to work the Real Madrid defence, but the away side's passing has been nice and crisp in the opening 15 minutes. Llorente has started really well.
SAVE! Super save from Courtois to keep out a powerful strike from Avila!
HUESCA SUB! Blow for Eibar as Aguilera picks up an injury and he cannot continue. His replacement is Melero, who will slot into the middle of the park.
Not too much to report in terms of Real Madrid chances since they made the breakthrough. Indeed, Huesca look the more likely to score as the first period progresses here.
Vazquez is encouraged forward by Bale, but Pulido is across to make the clearance, which brings a huge cheer from the crowd. The hosts then break into a wide position and Llorente has to clear a cross from Avila. Brilliant football from the home side in that exchange.
It does look like set pieces could be a problem for Real Madrid, particularly with the wind moving the ball. Avila has been the pick of Huesca's players in the first 25 minutes here.
SAVE! Jovanovic makes a brilliant save to keep out a swerving Bale strike!
YELLOW CARD! Carvajal (Real Madrid) is booked for a heavy challenge on Cucho.
Huesca want a red card, and they might have had a case!
Delay in play here as the referee gets his equipment sorted!
Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining, and Bale's volley is still the difference. Huesca have arguably been the better side though as they continue to force the issue.
Bit of possession for Real Madrid at the moment, and they needed a spell like this.
The visitors are firmly on top at the moment, despite the battling qualities of Huesca.
Benzema has been sloppy for Real Madrid in this match, with the Frenchman guilty of loosing the ball in the final third on a couple of occasions. Bale has been the away side's star man.
Carvajal delivers a dangerous cross into the Huesca box, but Pulido makes the clearance. Vazquez delivers from the opposite side moments later, and Melero heads behind.
The home fans can be delighted with what they have seen from their side in the first period. Real Madrid might lead, but it took a moment of magic from Bale to make the breakthrough.
YELLOW CARD! Ceballos (Real Madrid) is booked for a foul on Gomez.
YELLOW CARD! Etxeita (Huesca) is booked for a late tackle on Bale.
Not too much to report as we close out the first period in Aragon.
Just the one minute of additional time to play at the end of the first period.
HALF TIME: HUESCA 0-1 REAL MADRID
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Real Madrid leading 1-0 courtesy of a wonderful goal from Bale. Aside from that, however, it has been a very even game. Huesca have certainly had chances to score, but it is 1-0 to the visitors at the break.
STATISTICS! Huesca had 40% of the ball in the first period, managing two attempts, one of which was on target. Real Madrid, meanwhile, hit the target with each of their two attempts. Three yellow cards to report - Carvajal and Ceballos for Real Madrid, and Etxeita for the hosts.
BENCH WATCH! Huesca were forced into a change in the first period, with Melero replacing the injured Aguilera. Head coach Rodriguez still has attacking options in reserve though in the shape of Longo, Camacho and Sastre. As for Real Madrid, Isco, Asensio and Vinicius are among those available in the second period. Plenty of talent on both benches here.
KICKOFF: Real Madrid resume the action here...
CHANCE! Huge chance for Huesca to level as Melero finds himself free inside the Real Madrid box, but the midfielder somehow heads wide of the post. Some miss there!
You do get the feeling that Real Madrid are going to need to score a second goal here if they are to stand a chance of picking up all the points. Huesca are playing well here.
Real Madrid have not really had much change out of Huesca's defence from set pieces this afternoon. The away side have also been really sloppy at the start of the second period.
Hernandez continues to impress for Huesca, with the forward causing Real Madrid problems with his pace and movement. Another dangerous cross comes into the away side's box, and Courtois only just manages to clear. One-way traffic at the moment in this match.
Still all Huesca. Real Madrid are so off-colour at the moment here.
SAVE! Super save from Courtois to keep out a long-range Ferreiro strike!
REAL MADRID SUB! Valverde replaces Ceballos for the away side.
Little over 30 minutes of the second period remaining, and it is still 1-0 Real Madrid.
SHOT! Hernandez's strike from distance was always missing the Real Madrid post.
SAVE! Smart save from the Huesca goalkeeper to deny Bale from distance.
Melero continues to pick up positive positions for Huesca, and Real Madrid are forced to concede another corner as Ramos comes across to clear a low cross from the substitute.
Huesca have not performed like a team rooted to the bottom of the table.
REAL MADRID SUB! Isco replaces Modric for the away side.
Hernandez sees an effort deflected behind as Huesca continue to force the issue. It must be said that Benzema has been so off-the-pace for Real Madrid in this match.
Another poor pass from Real Madrid, with Isco failing to find Odriozola with what looked to be a simple ball. Still 1-0 as we enter the final 20 minutes of action here.
SAVE! Smart save from the Huesca stopper to keep out an attempt from Bale.
Real Madrid have been so, so disappointing in this match. But the European champions still have the lead as we head for the final 15 minutes of action at the Estadio El Alcoraz.
EIBAR SUB! Gurler replaces Ferreiro for the home side.
REAL MADRID SUB! Bale is replaced by Asensio.
So, little over 10 minutes remaining, and Bale's effort is still the difference here.
YELLOW CARD! Insua (Huesca) is booked for a foul on Isco.
Real Madrid are having a lot of the ball as we approach the latter stages here.
EIBAR SUB! Final change for Eibar as Longo replaces Avila.
Real Madrid might just squeeze past Huesca in this match. But they are a million miles away from what we have seen from Barcelona in recent weeks. Los Blancos will move to within five points of Barcelona with a win, but the gap in quality is much bigger than that.
Llorente has arguably been the pick of the players for Real Madrid once again.
CLOSE! Hernandez hooks over the crossbar from inside the Real Madrid box.
Super header from Ramos to clear a deep free kick into the Real Madrid box.
We are into the first of two additional minutes here.
Time is running out for Huesca, and Real Madrid are on the verge of securing all three points, which will move them into fourth position in the table. The visitors are very fortunate.
Courtois manages to turn a deep Gomez free kick over the crossbar.
Carvajal clears a strike from Rivera as Huesca continue to threaten.
FULL TIME: HUESCA 0-1 REAL MADRID
So there we have it. Real Madrid collect all three points courtesy of a first-half goal from Bale. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again. Until next time!