The 0-0 draw in the Atlético-Barcelona match of the week has put Real Madrid back on the track to win the league. Thanks to this result, the merengues just depend on themselves to be the 2013-2014 champions and don't need to trust on Atlético or Barça's rivals to take any points away from them. The first step towards this objective is beating Espanyol tomorrow in order to end the first half of the season only three points below the current leaders.
To fulfill this goal, Ancelotti will need to get the best of his men to increase the level shown against Celta and Osasuna and get a third win in a row. All players are available except for Jesé, who will stay in Madrid after the cramp he suffered last Thursday. Diego López, who has had a viral problem, and Alonso, still convalescing from his eardrum perforation, will travel to Barcelona with their partners, but it is not clear yet whether they'll be able to play or not.
I don't think it will be an easy game for us, in any case. Espanyol is a very rough team to face. They are really intense, and don't hesitate to refuse the ball possession to stick together and fiercely defend their goal, to ferociously counterattack when they get it back. We will also need to be specially careful when defending free kicks or corner kicks, an area in which they excel and that has proven to be one of our biggest weaknesses in the last few games.
The 4-2-3-1 we are lately getting used to will likely be the chosen formation, with Isco and the BBC trio taking the offensive responsibilities. Behind them, the presence of Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo and Modric seems pretty clear, while Carletto will have to choose from Casillas or López, Carvajal or Arbeloa and Alonso or Illarramendi for the three remaining spots. Given the important absence of David López, Espanyol's central midfielder, it seems that it will be easier for us to control the ball in central areas with Modric, Isco and Benzema, so perhaps it would be a good idea to have Carvajal and Marcelo in the wings, to open the field and increase our offensive possibilities.