Real Madrid vs Espanyol Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battles, Team News & More

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Real Madrid return to domestic action this weekend in their bid to get translate their Champions League form into some of kind of consistency in La Liga.

Espanyol are the visitors to the Santiago Bernabeu for Zinedine Zidane's team.

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Classic Encounter


Real haven't lost against Espanyol since the 2007/08 season when Albert Riera and Raul Tamudo scored in a 2-1 win for the Catalan club.

Contests between the two have been notably one-sided at times and one particular example is the 5-0 Real win in the latter weeks of the 2011/12 campaign.

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It came as a 10th win in a row for Jose Mourinho's Blancos team and contributed to what eventually became a first league title in four years.

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the opening goal that day, while former Real players Sami Khedira, Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain all added their name to the score-sheet as well.

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Key Battles


Cristiano Ronaldo vs Pau Lopez


Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to score in La Liga so far this season, partly as a result of only playing two games after suspension. But the Ballon d'Or holder was in top form in the Champions League this week, netting twice, and so it could be a busy day for Espanyol stopper Pau Lopez.

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Gerard Moreno vs Sergio Ramos


Espanyol striker Gerard Moreno was on the scoresheet twice last weekend as his team ran up the score-line against Deportivo. He will therefore be identified as the visitor's greatest goal threat and the player that Real skipper Sergio Ramos needs to pay special attention to.

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Team News


Real Madrid: Gareth Bale may miss out as a precaution after a calf complaint in midweek, handing Lucas Vazquez the chance to start. Karim Benzema remains out, as do Marcelo and Theo Hernandez. That means Nacho will likely be asked to play at left-back once more.

Espanyol: The visitors have no injury concerns, with long-term absentee Oscar Duarte the only one to definitely miss out as he continues to recover from knee ligament damage. Javi Fuego may fancy his chances of returning in the centre of midfield after missing out last week.

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Lineups


Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho; Isco, Kroos, Modric; Vazquez, Ronaldo, Asensio

Espanyol (4-4-2-): P. Lopez; Sanchez, D. Lopez, Hermoso, Martin; Jurado, Darder, Diop, Piatti; Baptistao, Moreno

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Prediction


In Espanyol, Real face a team that enjoyed a 4-1 win over Deportivo in their last outing and so ought not to be underestimated. That is especially important seeing as Real haven't kept a clean sheet in La Liga since they themselves met Deportivo in gameweek one.

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Real are under pressure to close the gap that has opening behind Barcelona at the top of the table and are also dealing with injuries as well. But they should still have enough quality to cope and win this game if things go as they should.

Real Madrid 3-1 Espanyol