Real Madrid will rest a number of key players for tonight’s match against Espanyol to prevent them picking up any injury and keep them in good shape for the Copa del Rey final.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been suffering muscular problems in his left leg, will probably not feature in the game. Los Blancos will also preserve Mesut Ozil, who suffered a minor ankle sprain against Malaga, and start him on the bench.
Sergio Ramos, Khedira and Marcelo, who have been recovering from spells out of the side, will be on the squad, but are not expected to start at Cornella El Prat stadium. Mourinho will miss Arbeloa, who isn’t still completely recovered from his injury.
Real face the game in good shape, having dropped only one point since February. In addition, they have not lost against Espanyol since October 2007. A draw will secure the second place in La Liga for Los Merengues.
Espanyol to keep European hopes
Espanyol have only got three wins in their last ten matches, but they still harbour hopes of reaching eighth spot, which could give access to European competition if Malaga is finally banned by UEFA for their financial problems.
The Barcelona-based side sit 11th in La Liga, four points behind Getafe, who hold that 8th position. With four games to the end of the season, they are six points behind the 7th spot held by Betis.
Javier Aguirre will miss Cristian Alvarez, Felipe Mattioni and Simao. The goalkeeper is out with a torn hamstring, while Mattioni and Simao are yet to return to training from their injuries.
Aguirre will select his usual 4-2-3-1, with Joan Verdu as playmaker and Sergio Garcia up front. A loss would probably mean goodbye to a Europa League qualification for the Catalan side.
Real Madrid: Lopez; Coentrao, Albiol, Varane, Nacho; Essien, Modric; Morata, Kaka, Di Maria; Higuain.
Espanyol: Casilla; Capdevilla, Moreno, Colotto, Lopez; Sanchez, Forlin; Mubarak, Verdu, Stuani; Garcia.