Two weeks after their extraordinary 5-0 victory over Real Betis, Los Blancos resume their path in La Liga tomorrow at the Power 8 Stadium, in Barcelona. Real Madrid needs to beat Espanyol in order to confirm that the draw against Sporting was just an accident and to keep track of Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid, who play against each other at 20:30 CET.
Like most of the times when there is a FIFA break, Los Blancos will need to deal with the absences of a couple of their starters. Fortunately, both Danilo and James Rodríguez have good backups in Carvajal and Isco, but it is a shame that two of the players that were in a better condition have to miss a few games from now on. There is no other information about any further rotations by Benítez tomorrow, although that is not a possibility we should rule out given that Real Madrid has a Champions League game on Tuesday.
To achieve a new victory, Real Madrid will likely need Ronaldo to cut his negative streak and finally score for the first time in seven games. He is the killer in this team and, although one should expect Bale, James and Benzema to step up like they did two weeks ago when he is not at his best, history tells us that neither Real Madrid nor Barça can reach or surpass ninety-five points in La Liga if Ronaldo or Messi don't score around forty goals. Above that, seeing Los Blancos showing a solid image like in the previous games will be important, and it will also be interesting to see how Navas performs for the first time after the controversial transfer period deadline.
In any case, there is no room for excuses and Los Blancos should win tomorrow's game no matter what. Espanyol, with three points right now after having beaten Getafe and lost to Villarreal, are a clearly weaker team than Real Madrid that have not looked very robust so far, although as some pundits claim they have used this two-week break to prepare a special defence to play against Real Madrid. This is why a 4-3-3 with Javi López, Víctor Sánchez and Pape Diop as the midfield trio is expected from Sergio González.
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Espanyol: Pau López; Arbilla, Ciani, Álvaro González, Duarte; Javi López, Víctor Sánchez, Diop; Moreno, Álvarez, Caicedo.
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric; Isco, Bale, Ronaldo; Benzema.