Real Madrid face Espanyol in La Liga on Sunday with the intent to bounce back from a couple of disappointing results.
First, Carlo Ancelotti’s side were held to a scoreless draw at home against Villarreal before they were part of a sensational midweek upset as they were defeated 2-1 at home by FC Sheriff in the Champions League.
Previously, Madrid had been in rampant form, including heavy wins over Mallorca and Celta Viga at home and tight victories away to Valencia and Inter. It is this level of form they will be seeking to get back to as they attempt to preserve first spot in La Liga.
Defensively, the same issues remain. Dani Carvajal is on the sidelines at right-back, while on the left both Marcelo and Ferland Mendy are likely to be laid up. Nacho and Guti are likely to take their spots.
Otherwise, it should be about the classic starting XI from Ancelotti, who will see Thibaut Courtois’ goal protected by Eder Militao and David Alaba in the centre of the defence.
Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos are tipped to start in midfield, with Eduardo Camavinga dropping to the bench after making a start in midweek.
Offensively, Gareth Bale is still on the sidelines, so Eden Hazard and Vini Jr should feature from the beginning. The Brazilian is in especially eye-catching form.
However, it is Karim Benzema who has been the star of the show for Madrid so far this term. With eight goals and seven assists in the league, he has made a better start to a season than even Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi ever managed and is the in-form player not just in Madrid or Spain, but the whole of Europe at present.
Naturally, the France international star will lead the line in this encounter.