Espanyol visit the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday evening with Real Madrid desperately looking to end their recent poor home run.Historically the famous stadium has been a fortress for Los Blancos and visiting teams usually received absolutely no encouragement from the hosts who would then duly take the three points.
In the 2017/18 season however, things have been a little different with Zinedine Zidane’s charges simply unable to overcome any sort of challenge at their own stadium.Valencia, Levante and Real Betis have all visited Madrid thus far this season and have all departed with at least one point.Zidane is determined that this doesn’t become any more of a pattern than it has already and Sunday’s visit of Espanyol seems like the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways at home.
The longer these negative runs remain in place, the more they become a psychological wall than a physical one.During the 1-0 defeat to Real Betis, you could sense the pressure on Los Blancos’ stars.It was an unfortunate atmosphere that wouldn’t have been present had victories been achieved against Valencia and Levante earlier in the month.
What has made this inability to get a home victory even more bizarre has been Los Blancos’ free-scoring, wonderful away performances.Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park was a near perfect 90 minutes.Real were so effective on the counter-attack that they were unplayable at times.
This match will have taken something out of the squad fitness wise and it is expected that Dani Ceballos could be handed another starting opportunity.Espanyol are in good form themselves and in their last three matches the club has managed to record two victories and a draw; exactly the sort of form that hands a team confidence.
Los Blancos could actually benefit from that if the visitors feel they can take the Spanish champions on toe-to-toe.In their last 21 seasons in the Spanish top flight, Espanyol have never won at the Bernabeu.With regards to the visitors own sporting issues, Quique Sanchez Flores faces selection troubleswith Pablo Piatti and Victor Sanchez both absent.
Diego Lopez is fit enough to play against his old club and Real Madrid supporters will be hoping he doesn’t return to frustrate them as Antonio Adan did for Real Betis.