Real Madrid Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Espanyol

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Everything you need to know ahead of Los Blancos' La Liga encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday

Real Madrid will look to keep their lead over Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division as they host Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon.

Zinedine Zidane's side lead La Liga by a point from their fierce rivals, but Los Blancos also have two games in hand due to their participation in the Club World Cup in December and the postponement of their match away to Celta Vigo recently.

Madrid beat Napoli 3-1 in the Champions League at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night, with Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Casemiro on target for the current European champions.

On Saturday, however, their attentions turn back to La Liga and the visit of Espanyol.


REAL MADRID INJURIES


Gareth Bale is back in a Real Madrid squad for the first time since November and is set to feature at some point in the game against Espanyol.

The Welsh winger suffered an ankle injury away to Sporting CP in the Champions League on November 22 and underwent surgery, but is now ready to return after almost three months on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos picked up knocks against Napoli and have been left out of the squad by coach Zinedine Zidane, while Danilo is sidelined along with Fabio Coentrao.

Gareth Bale Real Madrid Leganes La Liga


REAL MADRID SUSPENSIONS


Toni Kroos is back from suspension after sitting out the 3-1 win away to Osasuna last weekend and the German midfielder, who scored a fine goal against Napoli on Wednesday, will start for Real Madrid on Saturday.

Toni Kroos Real Madrid


REAL MADRID POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP


Keylor Navas misses out with a knock, so Kiko Casilla will start in goal against Espanyol, with Pepe set to come in for Sergio Ramos (who went off against Napoli with a minor injury) in central defence.

Coach Zinedine Zidane will also hand a start to Nacho at left-back in order to rest Marcelo, while Luka Modric has been left out of the squad and his place should go to compatriot Mateo Kovacic in midfield - alongside Casemiro and Toni Kroos.

Zidane has also given Karim Benzema the weekend off and revealed on Friday that he will hand a start to Alvaro Morata in attack. Cristiano Ronaldo will be in the team as usual, but Gareth Bale is likely to begin on the bench following his time out through injury.

That means there is another place in the side up for grabs and the French coach may opt for Marco Asensio, left out of the squad altogether in the last two matches. Lucas Vazquez and Isco are also in contention for the final starting spot.

Possible Real Madrid XI


ESPANYOL TEAM NEWS


Espanyol are down to ninth in the table after losing 2-1 at home to Real Sociedad in La Liga last weekend.

Quique Sanchez Flores' side are only four points behind sixth-placed Villarreal, but the Catalans have won just one of their previous five on the road in all competitions.

Their best player this season, Argentine Pablo Piatti, is expected to miss out through injury, along with Pape Diop, but Victor Sanchez is available again after recovering from a muscle problem.

Baptistao Moreno Jurado Espanyol Liga


BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS


  • Real Madrid have not lost against Espanyol in their last 20 games at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga (won 17, drawn three), with their last defeat at home to the Catalans coming back in 1996.

  • Espanyol are winless in 18 games against Real Madrid in La Liga (lost 15, drawn three), their worst-ever run against Los Blancos.

  • Against Espanyol last season, Cristiano Ronaldo equalled the best tally of goals scored against a club in a single Liga season (eight, the same as Telmo Zarra versus Lleida in 1950-51).

  • Espanyol have had the fewest shots away in La Liga this season (69) while Real Madrid have had the most at home (208).


TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME


Real Madrid versus Espanyol kicks off at 16:15 CET and as games cannot be televised in the UK at that time, the match will be shown later on in its entirety starting at 17:30 GMT on Sky Sports 5.

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