Espanyol welcome Real Madrid in La Liga action this Sunday, looking to close the gap on second placed Atletico Madrid.
Los Blancos will be hoping for a routine win but so far this season not much has come easy for the European giants.
Espanyol find themselves in 13th place in the table, only four points above the drop zone and a loss could put them in real danger of dropping into the relegation places.
Check out 90min's preview of the game below.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Sunday 27 January|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19:45 (GMT)|
|Where Is it Played?||RCDE Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Eleven Sports|
Real Madrid will be without second choice keeper Keylor Navas as well as Gareth Bale and Jesus Vallejo due to injury.
Mariano Diaz, Marco Asensio and Marcos Llorente are all close to returning to match fitness but remain unlikely to feature in Sunday's game. Marcelo has reportedly been dropped by Solari due to weight issues but the Brazilian left back made his comeback against Girona on Thursday.
Toni Kroos made his comeback against Girona on Thursday so he is likely to play on Sunday.
Espanyol have some serious issues at centre back, with Lluis Lopez and Mario Hermoso expected to start. Hernan Perez, Oscar Duarte, Naldo and David Lopez are all definitely out, while Adria Pedrosa is doubtful.
|Real Madrid||Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Modric, Valverde; Junior, Benzema, Vazquez.|
|Espanyol||D. Lopez; Rosales, L. Lopez, Hermoso, Vila; Darder, Roca, Granero; Baptistao, Iglesias, Garcia.|
Head to Head Record
These two teams have faced each other on 165 separate occasions and unsurprisingly Real Madrid have the advantage with 98 wins.
Espanyol have only won 34 of those 165, while 33 games have ended in draws. The last time they faced off, Real edged their rivals 1-0 thanks to Asensio's 41st minute effort.
Real Madrid come off the back of a big win against Sevilla in their previous La Liga match, following that up with a 4-2 Copa del Rey victory over Girona, but Santiago Solari's side have lost two of their last six matches.
Solari hasn't had the best of starts with the club, somewhat steadying the ship but with shock results like a 2-0 loss to Real Sociedad, Real fans are not best pleased at the moment.
Espanyol are not in the best form, coming off a 3-0 defeat to Eibar in their last La Liga encounter before a Copa del Rey draw against Real Betis. The La Liga outfit have won two of their last six matches, losing two and drawing two.
Here's how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:
|Espanyol 1-1 Real Betis (24/1)||Real Madrid 4-2 Girona (24/1)|
|Eibar 3-0 Espanyol (21/1)||Real Madrid 2-0 Sevilla (19/1)|
|Espanyol 3-1 Villarreal (17/1)||Leganes 1-0 Real Madrid (16/1)|
|Real Sociedad 3-2 Espanyol (14/1)||Real Betis 1-2 Real Madrid 13/1)|
|Villarreal 2-2 Espanyol (9/1)||Real Madrid 3-0 Leganes (9/1)|
Espanyol have been a force to be reckoned with at home this season which will make this a tricky game for Real Madrid given their form and a large amount of injuries, especially to key players Bale and Asensio.
Los Blancos will look to young prospect Vinicius Junior to provide the sparks up front and make things happen. Espanyol will hope to nullify the threat of the fast-paced Brazilian and will feel if they can stop him, they will weaken the Madrid attack immensely.
However, Real should have just about enough to claim all three points.