Real Madrid starts its ‘fantastic’ week without margin of error
The whites, forced not to stumble against Espanyol to come back for the League, before receiving Liverpool and traveling to the Camp Nou
MADRID, March 10 (EUROPA PRESS) –
Real Madrid receives RCD Espanyol this Saturday (2:00 p.m.) as an ‘advance’ before their tough and key commitments against Liverpool in the Champions League and FC Barcelona again in the League, in a key week in which they are obliged not to fail to put pressure on the solid and leading Barça team, while the ‘parakeet’ team that hasn’t won at the Santiago Bernabéu for 23 years, although it comes with need and urgency.
The recital, with an overwhelming victory (2-5), at Anfield in a demonstration of character and ‘punch’, did not give impetus to Carlo Ancelotti’s men, who experienced a drop in play and results and an identity crisis to stop even plus their mandatory climb in the League for the title and put them behind in the fight for the Cup. Two domestic draws against Atlético (1-1) and Betis (0-0) and the defeat (0-1) in the first leg of the tournament of the KO against Barça are the most recent poor balance, with only one goal in favor.
And this critical moment comes at the decisive moment of the season, with everything at stake, on a wire, in which each game is ‘life or death’. And it is that the meringues must take advantage of the, a priori, ‘affordable’ commitment against Espanyol, who has not won at the Bernabéu since April 1996, to pick up a ‘run’, morale and momentum that allows them to face their ‘fantastic’ week with guarantees ‘.
After the duel against those from Cornellà, the whites will host Liverpool on Wednesday in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 with a cushion that seems sufficient. However, the current dynamics, without the tension or the attitude that is required in this key part of the season, removes the presumable tranquility that the result (2-5) gives away.
Just four days later, they will visit the Camp Nou to examine their candidacy to retain the League title, something they haven’t done since the 1989-1990 season. And history is an argument against it, since no one has overcome a nine-point deficit -their current distance from Barça- after 24 days to proclaim themselves champion. The whites would be the first to do so if they win a league that has been azulgrana since matchday 13.
Against Esapnyol, Ancelotti could rest players like Toni Kroos or Luka Modric, in favor of Aurelien Tchouameni and Dani Ceballos. Those who will not be there will be Ferland Mendy and David Alaba, casualties to which is added that of Karim Benzema, who will miss his fourteenth game this season due to ankle discomfort. The Frenchman is mired in irregularity in a course in which injuries are preventing him from seeing the most defining version of him, although with notable goalscoring figures (18 total goals).
The absence of the Frenchman, who has not missed a game since February 18, will force Ancelotti to reorganize the attack, with the only fixed place for Vinicius Júnior on the left. The carioca would be accompanied by his compatriot Rodrygo Goes as ‘nine’, while Marco Asensio would occupy the right part. The alternative will bear the name of youth squad player Álvaro Rodríguez, scorer of the only Merengue goal in the last three games.
ESPANYOL ALSO WANTS TO DIG IN THE WHITE CRISIS
Meanwhile, Espanyol faces the difficult task of getting something positive out of the Bernabéu, where they have gone 25 league games without winning, after seeing how their streak of two consecutive wins was cut short with the defeat (2-1) against Real Valladolid. However, it seems a good time to ‘sink your teeth’ into the merengue team and delve into the white wound.
The Catalan team is thirteenth in the LaLiga Santander table, although with only two ‘cushion’ points over Almería, which delimits the relegation zone. The bad match at the José Zorrilla marred Espanyol’s great performance away from home, with only one defeat in their last six outings. With the slab of statistics so negative at the Bernabéu, the blue and whites must avoid chaining two consecutive defeats as visitors in the League.
“We have to go out and compete at our best level, knowing that it’s a match against a rival from another dimension, but anything can happen. You have to be with honors and they don’t have their day. But let’s compete and fight and work with full conviction in what we need to do to be able to win”, said coach Diego Martínez at a press conference.
Espanyol present the casualties of Pedrosa and Keidi Baré, while Brian Oliván, who suffered a trauma to his left leg, and Javi Puado, already recovered from the flu, have traveled with the team. Diego Martínez will have to decide if he opts for the 5-3-2 to win the Bernabéu, with Cabrera, Sergi Gómez and Montes as centre-backs. Souza, Darder and Denis Suárez will populate the core, with Joselu and Braithwaite, author of three goals in the last two games, in attack.
REAL MADRID: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Tchouameni, Valverde, Ceballos; Asensio, Rodrygo and Vinicius.
SPANISH: Pacheco; Óscar Gil, Montes, Sergi Gómez, Cabrera, Oliván; Souza, Darder, Denis Suarez; Joselu and Braithwaite.
–REFEREE: Figueroa Vázquez (C. Andaluz).
–Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
–TIME: 2:00 p.m./Movistar LaLiga.