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Primera División

  • February 13, 2011
  • • 20:00
  • • Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, Cornella de Llobregat
  • Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
  • • Attendance: 40423
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La Liga Preview: Espanyol - Real Madrid

La Liga Preview: Espanyol - Real Madrid

Los Blancos travel to Barcelona, where they surely have to overcome los Periquitos if they’re to maintain a title challenge...

Odds Stacked Against

After a highly promising start to the season, Espanyol’s good work in the first half of the campaign appears to be coming apart at the seams. Los Periquitos have the unenviable task of trying to get back to winning ways at home against Real Madrid on Sunday night.

Financial pressures have forced to Barcelona-based club to sell defenders Victor Ruiz and Didac, while an injury to key striker Pablo Osvaldo has left them a little impotent in attack. Results have accordingly slumped, with last weekend’s defeat away from struggling Almeria highlighting the difficulties that the Catalans face in the coming weeks.

Coach Mauricio Pochettino noted that the Andalucians’ sharper finishing last weekend was the difference between the sides, but back at the Cornella-El Prat, where he has witnessed his side win eight of 10 Liga matches, he has a rather different worry, calling for a strong refereeing display from Mateu Lahoz.

“If we look at it in terms of budget, then there is no comparison between us and Real Madrid, but in football anything is possible, and sometimes work and effort outweigh millions,” he said optimistically earlier this week.

Hard graft has certainly got Espanyol far this season, but having lost some of their better players in recent weeks, it’s unlikely to be enough to worry their weekend guests.

No Margin For Error


Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, meanwhile, continue to go along strongly, but such is the form of Barcelona, even the slightest slip from los Blancos is being punished harshly. Away from home, the capital side have struggled lately, and as a result, they cannot count on recording three points on Sunday.

A draw against Almeria in the second week of 2011 was a significant set-back as it pushed Madrid four points behind their great rivals, but defeat against Osasuna only a fortnight ago bordered on a catastrophe. Raul Albiol has already underlined his belief that no further errors can be made if Barca’s large looking advantage is to be overhauled.

“We have no margin for error, because if we lose it means we can virtually say goodbye to the league,” he explained to the press. “Espanyol are a difficult team because they have a good record at home. Everyone knows that they will really want to win, and we cannot fail. We are seven points behind Barcelona, so we better win.”

At the Bernabeu, los Merengues continue to win. Last weekend Mourinho’s men romped to a 4-1 success over a dangerous Real Sociedad side, with Cristiano Ronaldo the star of the show after recording two first half goals. Kaka and Emmanuel Adebayor also got in on the act, and with these recent additions to the squad, albeit the former only coming back from a long-term injury, Madrid should feel that they have as formidable a panel as at any stage this term.


TEAM NEWS

Espanyol


A late call will have to be made on David Garcia, who’s likely to sit out due to a fractured nose. Verdu and Sergio Garcia will both have to overcome gastroenteritis to play but Carlos Kameni has overcome a muscular complaint and will feature in goal.

Pablo Osvaldo, Ivan de la Pena and Felipe Mattioni are all still out.

Real Madrid

All 13 players who competed on international duty have returned to the camp and trained successfully. Jerzy Dudek and Gonzalo Higuain are still out. Sergio Ramos returns after suspension and Pepe should be fully integrated after returning to training last week.  

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Carlos KameniGoalkeeper
2ChicaDefender
2Jordi AmatDefender
16Javier López RodríguezDefender
-Ernesto GalánDefender
7José Callejón Striker
10Luis GarcíaStriker
10VerdúMidfielder
7Raúl BaenaMidfielder
-Javi MárquezMidfielder
9Sergio GarcíaStriker
-Cristian AlvarezGoalkeeper
6Juan Daniel ForlínDefender
-Jesús DátoloMidfielder
-Aldo Pedro DuscherMidfielder
20ÁlvaroStriker
35RUI FonteStriker
1Iker CasillasGoalkeeper
12MarceloDefender
2Ricardo CarvalhoDefender
3PepeDefender
17ArbeloaDefender
7C. RonaldoStriker
14Xabi AlonsoMidfielder
11Mesut ÖzilMidfielder
6Sami KhediraMidfielder
7Ángel Di MaríaMidfielder
10Emmanuel AdebayorStriker
1AdànGoalkeeper
4Sergio RamosDefender
33Raúl Albiol Defender
8KakáMidfielder
6Lassana DiarraMidfielder
9Karim BenzemaStriker
Players to Watch
Carlos Kameni
Carlos Kameni
Position: Goalkeeper
Squad Number: 1
Games Goals YC RC
3 0 0 0
Goalkeeper Carlos Kameni is likely to be in for a busy night on Sunday. Not only will he have to cope with Real Madrid’s formidable strike force, the Cameroonian will also have to worry himself about organising a defensive line that is still bedding in. Having conceded three times against modest Almeria last weekend, the signs are not positive.
C. Ronaldo
C. Ronaldo
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
2 2 0 0
Cristiano Ronaldo has been Real Madrid’s talisman since making his record-breaking move from Manchester United, and this is the match the Portuguese attacker will be asked to excel in. Having ended a four match scoring drought by finding the net twice against Real Sociedad, he also struck for Portugal against Argentina. Man of the match in the first match against Espanyol, he is likely to be los Blancos’ game-breaker again at the weekend.
Prediction
Around a month ago, Real Madrid might have found this a very difficult trip, and though it is still a tester, Espanyol are a team on the wane and will probably be overcome.
Editor's Prediction

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