Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
10th January 2015, 1600hrs CET
Rel Madrid have made a disastrous start to 2015 as they have been beaten twice in a week, and coach Carlo Ancelotti will not accept anything less than a convincing win against Espanyol from his players tonight.
Real Madrid’s lead over neighbours Atletico has come down to just one point and they can’t afford any slip ups now as Diego Simeone’s men are looking in excellent form while eternal rivals FC Barcelona are also on a trail of Los Blncos.
Like Real Madrid, Espanyol have also suffered two back-to-back defeats in the first week of 2015 and the Catalans will be eager to get their campaign back on track by having a positive result against Los Blancos at Santiago Bernabeu, which looks very unlikely nonetheless.
Tactics and Predicted Lineups
Real Madrid have endured a nightmare start to the new year as they were convincingly beaten by both, Los che and Atletico Madrid, in past one week in La Liga and Copa Del Rey respectively. Alarm bells have already started ringing at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and Carlo Ancelotti would be hoping for a quick recovery from this poor run of form against Espanyol.
Real Madrid headed into 2015 on a record equalling run of 22 consecutive victories, but were brought back down to earth by high pressing game of Valencia and Atletico.
However, the game against Espanyol offers Real Madrid a perfect opportunity to get their campaign back on track as the Catalans are not expected to pose a serious challenge to Los Blancos.
Carlo Ancelotti has announced that defender duo of Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal are unavailable for this encounter against Espanyol. Raphael Varane, who is a transfer target of Chelsea, is expected to start the game in absence of Ramos. Arbeloa performed pretty badly against Atletico in a midweek encounter and Carlo Ancelotti could opt to play Nacho as a right-back for tonight’s game.
Cristiano Ronaldo did not feature against Atletico but the Portuguese superstar will come back to the starting XI tonight.
In absence of Luka Modric due to long term injury, Real Madrid have lacked creativity in their midfield and Carlo Ancelotti could ask Isco to play in a more advanced role against Espanyol as James Rodriguez has looked out of form in 2015.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has urged his players to get back to the winning ways after two consecutive defeats.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of tonight’s match, Carlo Ancelotti said: “The players want to get back to winning ways. We have a slight advantage in La Liga and we would like to keep it. We want to start off a positive run of results. It would be good for our mood. It is the first home game of the year and we want to play just as we did when we closed out the year, and make our fans happy”.
“Espanyol have changed from how they were last year. They have a new coach and a new mentality and style. They had some problems at the start but they are doing better now. They have had good results and played well against Valencia.”
Carlo Ancelotti also confirmed that Ronaldo is ‘not injured’ and he is available for selection. “I have spoken to him (Ronaldo), just as I have spoken to all of the players. Each game we take the necessary decisions so that all of the players are in good condition. He was a little tired before the Atlético game and we chose to give him a little rest, so that he didn’t play 90 minutes. Tomorrow, he will be completely recovered, in good condition, and he is going to play”.
Predcited Starting XI (4-3-3)- Casillas; Nacho, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; James, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Banzema, Ronaldo
Espanyol have secured just 20 points from 17 games this season and any chances of adding to that tally are very bleak as they will be playing against mighty Real Madrid in their own backyard tonight.
Espanyol defenders are expected to park the bus against Real Madrid and their attackers will try to take the benefit of any slip up in the defence of Los Blancos. Meanwhile, midfielder Victor Sanchez is back from suspension and he is available for selection for tonight’s game while Hector Moreno is a doubt having only just returned to training in the last couple of days.
Going into this difficult fixture against Real Madrid, Espanyol coach Sergio has asked his players to play a waiting game against the European champions.
“There are two ways to affront these games. Go and attack them, which I feel is suicidal or be patient and play a waiting game, stop their movement of the ball and counter-attacks, which are their strengths. The most important thing is to bring ambition to the match.”
“When the team competes, as per the Valencia game this week, we can have plenty of say in the path of the game, this is something that didn’t happen in the defeat at home to Eibar. We need to go out with a good mental attitude and show intensity. Playing against Madrid is always complicated and they will be wounded after their two consecutive defeats”.
Predcited Starting XI (4-4-2)- Casilla; Arbilla, Bailly, Collotto, Fuentes; Sevilla, Gonzalez, Sanchez; Montanes; Garcia, Caicedo.
Real Madrid 3-1 Espanyol
Real Madrid have suffered two consecutive defeats last week but Espanyol are not expected to pose a serious challenge to Los Blancos at Santiago Bernabeu. Espanyol have conceded too many goals this season and expect something similar from Real Madrid tonight.
Player To Watch Out For
Ronaldo have scored whopping 26 goals in La Liga this season and he will be eager to add on to that tally against Espanyol.
Blast From The Past