Real Madrid - Espanyol Preview: League leaders look to extend winning run to 10 matches
Los Merengues vie to keep Barcelona at arm's length in the Primera Division title race with victory over the Catalan capital's second club at the Santiago Bernabeu
By Karthick Arvinth
Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo
Callejon, Kaka, Ronaldo
Galan, Rodriguez, Moreno, Didac
Weiss, Verdu, Coutinho
Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao has been ruled out of action for three weeks after sustaining a groin injury while on international duty with Portugal.
Angel Di Maria and Karim Benzema are still sidelined through injury, while Lassana Diarra (back) and Hamit Altintop (calf) have resumed training again and could be fit in time for Sunday's visit of Espanyol.
Meanwhile, France U21 international Raphael Varane could be in line for a rare start in central defence in place of the suspended Pepe.
Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino has received some positive news on the injury front with the return to fitness of forward Sergio Garcia, who has recovered from the knee problem that has kept him out of action since mid-January.
Long-term absentees Walter Pandiani and Javi Marquez have also returned to training for the injury-plagued Catalan side, with goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez and Juan Albin also reported to be close to making returns. Right-back Ernesto Galan is available again after serving a one-match suspension.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Real Madrid have won their last nine league games - their longest winning streak in La Liga since a 10-match run between Sep-Dec 2011.
- Los Blancos have netted 80 goals in their 24 league matches so far, breaking Valencia's top-flight record of 79 goals at this stage in the 1941-42 season.
- Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured right) has scored more league goals this season (29) than 12 clubs in the Spanish top division, including Espanyol (27).
- Espanyol are on a four-game winless run in the league (D2 L2), but are unbeaten in their last four away matches (W1 D3).
- The Catalan club have not registered a league victory at Bernabeu since the 1995-96 season.
- Espanyol have conceded the most penalties in the Primera Division this season (six), while Real Madrid have been awarded the most penalties (10).
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Top 3 Predictions
Real Madrid CF 4-0 Espanyol
- 18.03 %
Real Madrid CF 3-0 Espanyol
- 16.38 %
Real Madrid CF 4-1 Espanyol
- 11.17 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||May 11, 2013||Espanyol 1 - Real Madrid CF 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Dec 16, 2012||Real Madrid CF 2 - Espanyol 2|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Mar 4, 2012||Real Madrid CF 5 - Espanyol 0|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Oct 2, 2011||Espanyol 0 - Real Madrid CF 4|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Feb 13, 2011||Espanyol 0 - Real Madrid CF 1|
|Real Madrid CF|
|Dec 7, 2013||CD Olímpic de Xàtiva 0 - Real Madrid CF 0||ESPC|
|Nov 30, 2013||Real Madrid CF 4 - Valladolid 0||LIGA|
|Nov 27, 2013||Real Madrid CF 4 - Galatasaray 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||Almeria 0 - Real Madrid CF 5||LIGA|
|Nov 9, 2013||Real Madrid CF 5 - Real Sociedad 1||LIGA|
|16||Javier López Rodríguez||Defender|
|18||Juan Daniel Forlín||Defender|
The Argentine has been largely overshadowed by Karim Benzema this campaign, despite having more league goals to his name than the Frenchman. Without a goal in his last five league appearances, the former River Plate striker will be keen to end his barren spell on his 150th league appearance for the Castilian club.
The highly-rated Spain U21 international has been one of Espanyol's bright lights this season and, with a tally of nine goals in all competitions, has capably filled the void left by Pablo Osvaldo. The 20-year-old earned the adulation of Espanyol fans with his late equaliser against city rivals Barcelona in January and he will be relishing the chance to add to his tally and grab another big scalp on Sunday.
Real Madrid showed the hallmark of champions last weekend when they ground out a win at Rayo Vallecano, despite being second-best for long periods. But they should make short work of Pochettino's side, whose bright start to 2012 has been scuppered by a lengthening injury list.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed