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Jan 27, 2019 at 7.45pm UK
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Preview: Espanyol vs. Real Madrid - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Espanyol vs. Real Madrid - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Real Madrid's trip to Espanyol in La Liga.

Real Madrid will be looking for their third straight La Liga win when they travel to an out-of-form Espanyol on Sunday night.

Los Blancos have won four of their last five in all competitions but still sit 10 points off La Liga leaders Barcelona entering Week 21 in Spain's top flight. Espanyol, meanwhile, have dropped down to 13th following a poor run.


It was all going so well for Espanyol. Indeed, the Catalan outfit only lost two of their first 11 La Liga matches of the 2018-19 campaign, which left them in and around the top four entering the month of November.

Since then, however, things have gone downhill. Indeed, Rubi's side have only won one of their last nine in Spain's top flight, suffering eight defeats in the process. They were thumped 4-0 at home by Barcelona in the latter stages of 2018 and results have not exactly improved in 2019.

Espanyol did open the year with a 1-0 home win over Leganes, but they have lost their last two to Real Sociedad and Eibar to drop down into 13th spot in the table, which is not disastrous but certainly disappointing when considering their results in the early stages of the campaign.

The club are only two points off the top eight, however, and will still believe that they can improve on last season's 11th-place finish and potentially secure their best position since the 2004-05 season, when they ended the campaign in fifth.

Espanyol have won six and lost three of their nine home La Liga matches this season, while they recorded a 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the corresponding league fixture last term.

It is probably a bad time to take on Los Blancos, however, considering that the European champions have shown obvious signs of improvement over the last few weeks.

Espanyol's form has been disappointing over the last few months, but they are certainly a team capable of big results and their supporters will be hoping for another this weekend.

Recent form: LLLWLL
Recent form (all competitions): WDLWLD

Real Madrid

It has not exactly been the most straightforward of seasons for Madrid, but there is still every chance that it could be a successful campaign for the capital giants.

Santiago Solari's side have beaten Real Betis and Sevilla in their last two league matches, although a title challenge this term seems unlikely with Barcelona 10 points clear at the summit and showing no signs of dropping points.

Los Blancos are very much alive in the Copa del Rey, however, and will enter this match off the back of a 4-2 win over Girona in the first leg of their quarter-final at the Bernabeu on Thursday night.

Solari's team actually fell behind on the night, but responded impressively to ensure that they would have an advantage to take into the second leg of the last-eight tie in Catalonia next week.

The win over Girona also means that Madrid have been victorious in four of their last five in all competitions, while the return of key players from injury means that the supporters have plenty of reasons to be positive.

The La Liga title looks beyond them, but they will fancy their chances of overcoming Ajax in the last-16 stage of the Champions League and simply cannot be written off in that competition.

The nature of the Copa del Rey means that it is a busy period of the season for Real, but there is no question that their confidence is slowly returning, which could mean more bad news for Espanyol this weekend.

Recent form: WWDLWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWLWW

Team News

Like Real Madrid, Espanyol were also in Copa del Rey action on Thursday night, with the Catalan outfit drawing 1-1 at home to Real Betis in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Head coach Rubi will make alterations for this match, with Javi Puado, Victor Sanchez and Diego Lopez among those expected to return to the XI.

Oscar Duarte, however, is expected to miss out once again with a hip problem.

As for Real Madrid, Jesus Vallejo, Gareth Bale, Keylor Navas and Marco Asensio remain on the sidelines.

Toni Kroos and Marcos Llorente both made their returns from injury off the bench against Girona, however, and the pair could return to the starting XI this weekend.

Raphael Varane will also be back in the starting side, but Isco remains seriously out of favour at the Bernabeu and the Spaniard will be fortunate to make the bench on Sunday.

Espanyol possible starting lineup:
Diego Lopez; J Lopez, Hermoso, Naldo, Vila; Granero, Sanchez, Roca; Puado, Baptistao, Melendo

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Llorente, Kroos, Modric; Vinicius, Benzema, Lucas

Head To Head

Real Madrid recorded a 1-0 victory when the pair locked horns in the reverse match earlier this season.

That said, as mentioned, Espanyol ran out 1-0 winners in the corresponding fixture last term.

Madrid's last league victory away to Espanyol was a 2-0 win in September 2016, while they put six goals past their opponents in Catalonia during the 2015-16 season.

We say: Espanyol 0-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid appear to have found a bit of form in recent weeks and we expect the European champions to put another three points on the board here.

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