Like Take 1 and Take 2, Take 3 is a compelling scenario: six hours, three crunch matches, everything on the line, zero margin for error. For Madrid, however, Saturday's trip north to San Sebastian strikes as the trickiest of the three. In recent times, Anoeta has been something of a graveyard for La Liga's elite. Earlier this month, Barcelona lost 1-0 in the home of Real Sociedad to extend their nine-year winless run at the ground, while last season all three of the Spain's title contenders inexplicably fell in a hole there.
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"We know that it is going to be a complicated game at difficult stadium, " said Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane on Friday. "We will start the game knowing what we have to do: start strong. "Typically Madrid would like their chances of doing so and overwhelming the Basques, but for this clash, Zidane and Co. are heading north well below full strength. Indeed, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema will be absent because of injury and are in a race against time to be fit for Wednesday's crucial second leg against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League. Also missing will be Toni Kroos (rested), while Zidane is expected to rotate as well. As such, Gareth Bale looks a little like a lone soldier for this one, just as he did last time out against Rayo.