Real Madrid
V
Espanyol

Santiago Bernabeu
September 22 2010, 01.30 AM IST

***

Real Madrid’s journey in the Spanish League continues to its fourth episode when they host Espanyol at the Bernabeu on Tuesday. Real have accumulated seven points so far from a possible nine; it’s no way the perfect start, nevertheless it’s something that has seen them leapfrog above Barca in the table.  Presently, Real find themselves  third  in the table, behind leaders Valencia and Sevilla. Espanyol, on the other hand has had a decent start and hold an impressive 7th position in the table. A trip to the Bernabeu is by no means an easy fixture for the Catalans though. Will the Catalans be a friend to the Capital giants or will Real have a new mutual enemy with Barca?


Ronaldo saves Real against Real

Real Madrid looked tired and struggled to make a string of decent passes against a fiery Real Sociedad side; the performance was attributed more to the fact that Madrid had to play a game on Saturday, after a midweek Champions League clash against Ajax, if Jose Mourinho were to be believed. Sociedad dominated their visitors in the first half but went down to a fantastic Di Maria goal before equalizing through the ex-Espanyol veteran Raul Tamudo. However, they were robbed off of a deserving point when Ronaldo stepped up to take a free kick and scored with the help of a slight Pepe deflection. Madrid will face a stern test against Espanyol who’ll be looking to at least take home a point from the Capital. Mourinho has told that there won’t be major changes in the squad as he wants to see his first team play together regularly. With the Bernabeu under their hoods, Real will be looking to go top of the table, momentarily at least.

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho gestures during a news conference at the Valdebebas training grounds outside Madrid September 17, 2010. Mourinho will not accept an offer to take temporary charge of the struggling Portuguese national team for next month's Euro 2012 qualifiers, the Real Madrid coach said on Friday.REUTERS/Susana Vera (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)Mourinho knows that Espanyol will be tough to beat.


Back to track after suffering a thump

Villarreal dismissed Espanyol 4-0 on matchday 2, but Espanyol are back on track after brushing Almeria aside after Callejon scored the sole goal of the game. Although it is still early days for Espanyol, it’s looking good for them to finish in the top 10. If they are to do that, they have to continue in this path and try to do their best in every game. They won’t be short of motivation on Tuesday as they’ll be looking to lash some grease on Madrid’s undefeated campaign. Coach Mouricio Pochettino has told that Madrid are not as sharp as last year. But he’ll know what Los Merengues are capable of and will instruct his players to be focused throughout the 90 minutes.


Probable Starting Lineups

Real Madrid: Canales has been ruled out for a couple of weeks after suffering a freakish injury in training. Gago, Kaka, and Garay still continue to nurse their injuries while Albiol started training for the first time in a month. Mourinho will be fielding the same lineup that played on Saturday at the Anoeta stadium.

Football Fans Know Better

Probable Lineup: Casillas; Ramos-Pepe-Carvalho-Marcelo; Khedira-Alonso; Ronaldo-Ozil-Di Maria; Higuain

Espanyol: The Catalans have their own issues, as several key players like Ivan Alonso and De La Pena will be missing the encounter.

Probable Lineup: Kameni; Chica-V. Ruiz-Forlin-Garcia; Duscher-Verdu-Marquez; Datolo-Luis Garcia- Callejon


Form Guide

Real Madrid – WWWDW

Espanyol – WLWDD


TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch Out For
Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)

PORT ELIZABETH, July 11, 2010 Mesut Ozil (R) of Germany breaks through during the 2010 World Cup third-place playoff soccer match against Uruguay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on July 10, 2010.Ozil in action for Germany.

Mesut made a memorable debut at the Bernabeu against Osasuna when he orchestrated every Real Madrid move and led them to a 1-0 win. He followed that up with an even better display against Ajax in the Champions League assisting Higuain for the second goal and also providing plenty of opportunities for his teammates. The Bernabeu will pin their expectations on him to continue showcasing his skills and help his team win the match. Watch out for Mesut Ozil to once again get a standing ovation from the Madrid faithful.


TheHardTackle’s Prediction

Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol

Both teams will be eager to put their best foot forward, but Espanyol might just find the task to be too monumental  for them to accomplish. Real will create a plenty of chances but it’ll be interesting to see  if  the rusty Higuain and the so far unlucky Ronaldo can capitalize on them.