Espanyol v R Madrid preview

The post-mortem of Madrid’s Champions League exit to Juventus in midweek is still going on and another nail in the Italian’s coffin could be hammered in on Sunday if Barcelona claim their 22nd title, which they can do by beating Atletico Madrid.

Ancelotti’s men must hope that does not happen while also looking after their own business against Espanyol to take the title race to the final weekend of the season.

Ancelotti is forced to watch the game from the stands after being handed a two-match touchline ban.

The former Chelsea manager sarcastically clapped the referee after his side’s 2-2 draw with Valencia last week and has been hit with the punishment by the league.

“I don’t know why they’ve banned me for two matches,” Ancelotti told the club’s official website. “I applauded at the end of the game, but it was for the supporters in the stands who had helped us. I don’t know why the referee thought that.???

Speaking about his future, Ancelotti reiterated his desire to remain at the Bernabeu but acknowledged that there was no guarantee he would get his wish.

“We have to finish off the season well and after that we’ll talk,??? he said. ???If the club are happy with the job I’ve done we can continue, and if they aren’t happy they have to make a decision.

“I would like to stay here. I know how things work in football and the club are within their rights to change coach if they aren’t happy”.

Madrid will be unable to call on defender Sergio Ramos after his season was ended by a torn calf muscle suffered against Juve on Wednesday.

A club statement read: “Following tests carried out on Sergio Ramos at the Sanitas La Moraleja Hospital, he has been diagnosed with a grade one muscle injury in the soleus in his left leg. His condition will be evaluated.”

Espanyol striker Felipe Caicedo expects Madrid to arrive at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat with the bit between their teeth.

“We expect a competitive Madrid, as usual, to come to the party and not be affected by their elimination,” he told a press conference, reported on the club’s official website. “It is a team with great potential, with an extensive squad.

“The big teams are always looking to win as soon as possible after a defeat. We have to face that. Madrid, wounded or not, will always want to win. I do not think they will be coming relaxed.”

Although they can no longer qualify for the European places, Caicedo insists his side are determined to finish as high as they can in the league.

“We have two finals,” he added. “We will exhaust every last effort to reach seventh place. We will keep giving it everything and be brave.”

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