REAL MADRID C. F.
Estadi Cornell -El Prat, Barcelona
Saturday 12th September, 2015, 1500 GMT
Spanish giants Real Madrid will be hoping to continue their winning momentum in La Liga when they travel to Catalonia to face Espanyol in a late afternoon kick off on Saturday. The Los Blancos followed up a dour 0-0 draw with Sporting de Gijon on the opening day of the season with a 5-0 demolition of Real Betis at the Santiago Bernab u. Espanyol, who have had a mixed start to the season after winning 1-0 against Getafe and losing 3-1 to Villarreal, will be hoping to kick start their campaign by upsetting a star-studded Real Madrid side.
Team News and Tactics
With one win and one loss in the opening two matches of the season, it is difficult to predict which Espanyol side will turn up against Real Madrid. Manager Sergio Gonzalez’s Espanyol endured a turbulent pre-season as 4 of their influential players left the club for greener pastures elsewhere.
The departures of defender Hector Moreno to PSV Eindhoven, goalkeeper Kiko Casilla to Real Madrid and midfielder Christian Stuani to Middlesbrough is bound to leave the club shortchanged with respect to top flight experience.
However, it is the departure of top scorer Sergio Garcia to Qatari club Al Rayyan SC that will hurt Espanyol the most. Garcia has been leading the line for the Catalan club since 2010, scoring 41 goals in 145 appearances for the club. Espanyol will be hoping that strikers Gerard Moreno, Caicedo and new recruit Mamadou Sylla Diallo, signed from Racing Club, will fill in the void left by Garcia.
Sergio Gonzalez is expected to field the same team that lost to Villarreal two weeks ago. Goalkeeper Pau Lopez is expected to start in between the sticks following the departure of Kiko Casilla to their opponents Real Madrid. Duarte, Raillo, Arbilla and Gonzalez will form the back four while Montanes, Sanchez, Alvarez and Lopez are expected to start in midfield. Gerard Moreno will partner Caicedo upfront.
Club legend Raul Tamudo, who retired from professional football at the end of last season, will be honoured by the club before kickoff. Tamudo represented Espanyol for 13 years, amassing 129 goals in 340 appearances and winning 2 Copa del Rey titles.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Pau Lopez, Duarte, Gonzalez, Raillo, Arbilla; Sanchez, Lopez, Alvarez, Montanes; Caicedo, Moreno.
The International break took a major toll on Real Madrid as they lost midfielder James Rodriguez and right-back Danilo to long term injuries. Danilo suffered a plantar fasciitis tear in his right foot, while on International duty with Brazil and is expected to be out for at least one month.
Daniloa s South American compatriot James Rodriguez was also ruled out for a month after tearing a muscle in his right thigh while playing for Colombia against Peru. Spanish International Isco is expected to come in for the Colombian.
Elsewhere, following David de Geaa s failed transfer to Real Madrid on deadline day, Costa Rican International Keylor Navas is expected to continue in goal for the Los Merengues. Rapha l Varane, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo will accompany Dani Carvajal in defence, with the latter expected to deputize for the injured Danilo in his absence.
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will continue to operate in a deeper role in midfield forming a pivot in Beniteza s 4-2-3-1 formation. Benitez will deploy the high profile quartet of Bale, Ronaldo, Isco and Benzema in a fluid, attacking system up front with all players given the permission to switch and interchange.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Navas; Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Carvajal; Kroos, Modric; Isco, Benzema, Bale, Ronaldo.
- Real Madrid have won more games (95) and scored more goals (353) against Espanyol than any other opponent in their La Liga history.
- The last two times these sides faced off, in the third match day of the season, both came in Catalonia and both ended 1-0 to Espanyol.
- Espanyol are without a win in 15 matches against Real Madrid in La Liga (D3 L12), last beating them back in October 2007 (2-1).
- Real Madrid have scored at least once in each of their last 19 league clashes with Espanyol (49 goals in total, 2.58 per game).
- Espanyol’s two goals so far this season have both arrived in the opening five minutes of play.
Player to watch out for:
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Real Madrida s Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will be desperate to end his 8 game goal drought for club and country when he takes the field against Espanyol on Saturday. Ronaldo was visibly upset as he failed to score in Real Madrid’s 5-0 thumping win over Real Betis two weeks ago. He also failed to add to his International tally when playing for Portugal as they laboured to an unconvincing 1-0 over Albania.
Some reports emerging from Spain attributed Ronaldo’s current goal scoring slump to his apparent uneasiness with the tactics and training methods of new boss Rafa Benitez. Ronaldo will be eager to quash these rumours of discontent by getting back to doing what he knows best– scoring heaps of goals.
Ronaldo scored an incredible 61 goals for Real Madrid in all competitions last season.
Espanyol 1 – 3 Real Madrid
Despite losing James Rodriguez and Danilo to injuries over the International break, Real Madrid will have too much firepower for an Espanyol side that has lost 4 of its seasoned campaigners in the transfer market. Cristiano Ronaldo will be desperate to get on the score sheet and is expected to bag at least one goal for the Los Blancos. Espanyol have not beaten Real Madrid since late 2007 and this trend is expected to continue this coming week as well.