Real Madrid welcome Espanyol on Sunday night at 20:45 CEST live here as they look to return to winning ways at the Bernabeu after this last outing ended in defeat to Real Betis at the stadium. Espanyol are on a three game unbeaten streak themselves and will hope to cause Zidane’s side problems as their injuries continue to mount.
Zinedine Zidane says he will wait until Sunday to decide whether Gareth Bale is okay to play having suffered a “slight strain” on his calf during the Borussia Dortmund game. The Welshman was hitting a decent patch of form and his abesence could be a blow to the reigning LaLiga champions.
Meanwhile, Dani Carvajal has also been ruled out with a viral infection. Theo Hernandez and Marcelo remain out meaning Nacho will deputise at left-back meaning
Achraf Hakimi is set to make his first start in Real Madrid’s first team.
Mateo Kovacic and Karim Benzema remain out with longer term injuries.
Marco Asensio could benefit from Bale’s absence after he missed out against Dortmund during the week. While Ronaldo, who trained in the gym during Real Madrid’s last training session, continues to battle lawyers regarding his tax issues as he hopes to renew his contract, Zidane says, “Marco [Asensio] is right in what he said about Cristiano. He can see it from close quarters, Cristiano is an example for everyone – for his energy which rubs off on the rest of the lads. I’m happy Asensio has renewed, he deserves it. And I’m happy for all of the others who have renewed their contracts. Let’s hope others end up staying for a long time at this club”.
Quique Sanches Flores’ side collapsed against Barcelona but have strung together a decent run of results in the aftermatch. Seven points from nine see them sitting 13th and a win or two away from the European places where they truly want to get to this season.
The former Atletico Madrid and Watford manager said, “I know how that stadium and that team works. I try to transmit that to our players, that they aren’t reckless, play with rigour, don’t fall asleep, keep their concentration… We can’t close our eyes for an instant. I hope we’re strong, dignified and that we have chances.”
He added, “There are results that are to do with what develops on the pitch, and others that aren’t. […] We have various goals. The first is to win, the second is to draw, and the third is to lose with honour.”
Espanyol will be without Oscar Duarte and Javi Lopez along with Hernán Pérez, Víctor Sánchez and Pablo Piatti.