Real Madrid travel to Catalonia to face Quique Sanchez Flores’ Espanyol at the RCDE Stadium on Tuesday night.
The reigning champions are currently placed third on the La Liga table, 14 points behind league leaders Barcelona, 7 points behind cross town rivals Atletico Madrid and 2 points ahead of fourth-placed Valencia. Espanyol on the other hand are 15th, a mere 9 points away from the relegation zone.
Real Madrid have a number of players unavailable for Tuesday’s clash at the RCDE Stadium, but that will not serve as an excuse for going back home without all three points against an Espanyol side that haven’t won a game since the 17th of January.
Speaking about the injured players in his pre-match press conference, Zinedine Zidane said: “They’re recovering and they’re working hard even if not right now. They’re working hard in a specific way and we’ll see what’ll happen with the three of them.”
“I don’t like to pressure the players. They’re always time frames and there is no need to push things and take risks. We’ll see throughout the week if anyone can re-join the group.”
In defence, Jesus Vallejo and Marcelo are out of contention for tonight’s tie. Both of them were reportedly continuing their recovery process in the last training session before the game, with Vallejo working alone. Zidane, however, will be able to welcome back Sergio Ramos back into the starting XI.
So the back four will likely consist of Rapahel Varane and Sergio Ramos at the heart of defence, with Nacho Fernandez and Dani Carvajal being deployed at left and right-back respectively. In midfield, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are will also sit this match out due to injury.
So, like in the last game, Mateo Kovacic and Casemiro will likely set up shop in central midfield, with Gareth Bale and Lucaz Vazquez on the left and right wing respectively. Marco Asensio and Isco are both in contention to start on the flanks and it is essentially a three-way-battle for the left wing.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Beznema are once again expected to lead the line together for Los Blancos. The Portuguese international has 15 goals and 10 assists in a mere 16 career appearances against Espanyol and it will be interesting to see whether he can add to that impressive tally.