Defending champions Real Madrid play hosts to RCD Espanyol on Sunday, as they continue to try and claw themselves back to the top of the summit of the La Liga.
Los Blancos are just coming off of a convincing win against Borussia Dortmund in their midweek Champions League tie at the Westfalenstadion. The have had a bad start to their La Liga title defence, drawing games against Valencia and Levante and losing to Real Betis at home.
Zidane’s side are having some trouble with injuries and currently sit at 6th place on the table with 11 points to their name from 6 games played. They will desperate to try and catch up with Barcelona, who are at the top of table, with 18 points to their name.
Espanyol on the other hand, have won 2 out of 6 games they’ve played so far, drawing 2 and losing the rest. They are currently 13th on the table, a comfortable 7 points away from the relegation zone and are coming off a confidence boosting 4-1 victory against Deportivo La Coruna.
Team News & Tactics
Zidane is expect to be without the services of Marcelo, Mateo Kovacic, Karim Benzema and Jesus Vallejo going into this tie. The defence is expected to be the same one that started against Borussia Dortmund during midweek, with Nacho Fernandez subbing in for Marcelo at left-back.
Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos will likely make up the midfield, and Isco could be in line for a start as well. He will likely feature in some capacity as the game goes on. Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente are also option for those positions, though all three of them are unlikely to start together.
Marco Asensio, who recently signed a contract extension, will likely start in behind the center forwards. Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to lead the line and Lucas Vazquez, who came on as a late substitute for Gareth Bale,(who limped off with a calf strain against Borussia Dortmund) will probably start alongside the Portuguese in the absence of Benzema.
Probable Lineup(4-3-1-2): Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Nacho Fernandez; Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric; Marco Asensio; Lucas Vazquez, Cristiano Ronaldo
Quique Sanchez Flores is expected to start a near identical starting XI to the one that smashed 4 past Deportivo last week. He is expected to be without Oscar Duarte, Javi Lopez and Alvaro Vazquez, and they will likely set up in their usual 4-4-2 formation.
Aaron Caricol, Mario Hermoso, David Lopez and Victor Sanchez will likely make up the back four. Pablo Piatti, Jose Manuel Jurado and Sergi Darder are expected to retain their places in midfield, with Javi Fuego returning to the starting XI ahead of Papakouli Diop.
Leo Baptistao and top scorer Gerard Moreno will likely lead the line for the Periquitos, who will be looking for their first away win of the current campaign.
Probable Lineup(4-4-2): Pau Lopez; Victor Sanchez, David Lopez, Mario Hermoso, Aaron Caricol; Jose Jurado, Javi Fuego, Sergi Darder, Pablo Piatti; Gerard Moreno, Leo Baptistao
- Real Madrid have beaten RCD Espanyol in their last 10 meetings across all competitions.
- RCD Espanyol have conceded at least 2 goals in 17 of their previous 18 matches against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
- RCD Espanyol have failed to score in the last 7 of their previous 9 matches against Real Madrid in all competitions.
- Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 goals and provided 9 assists in 15 appearances against RCD Espanyol across all competitions.
- Out of the 165 meetings between the two sides, Real Madrid have won 98 and Espanyol have won 34.
Real Madrid 3-0 RCD Espanyol
Real Madrid are yet to win a match at home in the La Liga since season, having drawn their first two and lost the third. They will be desperate to win their first three points at the Bernabeu this season and will look to take no prisoners against Espanyol.
Despite missing a number of players and returning from a tiring trip midweek to Germany, Real Madrid have a significant amount of quality to inflict some heavy damage on Quique Sanchez Flores’s men and The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 victory to the defending Champions.