MADRID, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- All eyes will be on the Real Madrid goalkeeper when Jose Mourinho' s side take to the pitch at home to Real Sociedad on Sunday evening.
Mourinho' s decision to leave Iker Casillas on the subs bench for the last game of 2012 as Madrid slipped to a 3-2 defeat in Malaga, was one of the shocks of the season and sparked debate as to why the coach had taken the decision to sideline the man who on Friday was voted the best keeper in the world for the fifth time in succession by the Federation of Football History and Statistics.
Mourinho said it was a technical issue and that Antonio Adan was in better form, while many believe the act was a punishment for Casillas' possible opposition to some parts of Mourinho' s policies as coach.
Should Casillas return in goal, it would point to a weakness in Mourinho' s arguments, while Adan' s continuity could signify a severe breakdown in relations between Casillas and the coach, despite Casillas playing down the affair in a press conference earlier this week.
Meanwhile it will be interesting to see what sort of a reception the fans in the Bernabeu will give the coach with their side 16 points behind FC Barcelona in the BBVA Primera Liga table.
The good news for Real Madrid is that it appears striker Gonzalo Higuain is finally in condition to play after missing two months with a muscle injury. Higuain' s absence has robbed Madrid of firepower in front of goal and his ability to snatch a goal out of nothing will be welcomed.
The striker' s return, however, is balanced by the loss of central defensive pairing, Sergio Ramos and Pepe. Pepe is out of a month after undergoing an operation on his right ankle, while Ramos is suspended.
Rafael Vanere will step into the side with either Ricardo Carvalho, who would make his side start of the season, or Raul Albiol, who returned to full training after injury earlier this week.
Real Sociedad travel to town in decent form and aiming to qualify for Europe, but knowing they will need to be at their best. Saying that, if the Basques can keep things tight in the opening half hour they will hope the frustrated Madrid fans turn on Mourinho and that could be a major help to their ambitions.