Preview: Real Madrid v Espanyol

Having drawn to Athletic Bilbao in their last league match, Real Madrid will look to return to winning ways against Espanyol on Saturday.

La Liga
22 September 2018
Game week 5
Kick-off: 20h45 local time/02H45 HKT (23 September)
Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu

Referee: A. Mateu
Assistant referees: P. Cebrian, I. De Francisco
Fourth official: I. Munoz

Head-to-head summary

Real Madrid 52 36 7 9
Espanyol 52 9 7 36

Previous encounter

Espanyol 1-0 Real Madrid (27/02/2018) La Liga

Espanyol goalscorer: G Moreno (90+3′)

Players to watch

Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have been banging in the goals for Real Madrid this season, with seven between them in their opening four league matches. The in-form pair will be looking to torment Espanyol’s defence come Saturday.

However, another player who has made his case for selection is Mariano Diaz, who scored off the bench against Roma and will hope to be rewarded with a starting berth.

Meanwhile, Espanyol midfielder Esteban Granero will be looking to impress on his return to the Bernabeu. The former Real Madrid man has been in good form this season, pulling the strings from the middle of the park and chipping in with a goal against Valencia.

Team form and manager quotes

Real Madrid have started life under Julen Lopetegui reasonably well, with a 1-1 draw to Athletic Bilbao the only blemish since the league season began. They bounced back from that well in midweek, beating Roma 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League.

“We did well, in defence and in attack. In football we know that if we don’t take our chances we may pay for it. In the first half we had a lot and we lacked accuracy, but in the second we were accurate and we deserved the three points,” said Los Blancos coach Julen Lopetegui after the victory over last season’s Champions League semi-finalists, as quoted by Sport.

Espanyol have got off to a good start themselves this season and sit fourth on the table after two wins, a draw and a defeat. Their last match saw them claim a 1-0 victory over Levante on Sunday.

“We want to entertain our fans and our ambition means there’s no position in the table we’re prepared to settle for,” said their coach, Rubi, ahead of the new season. So far, the Catalan side appears to be living up to his words.

Team news

Lopetegui may opt to rotate his squad at the end of a gruelling week, while Espanyol might be without injured centre-back David Lopez. Furthermore, Oscar Duarte and Javi Puado are reportedly carrying knee injuries.