Real Madrid will seek to seal a perfect run in the month of January as they face Espanyol in the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.
Los Blancos have won all their seven games so far in 2014 without conceding a single goal. The 1-0 advantage obtained in the first leg in Barcelona should favour their qualification for the semi-finals.
Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make changes in the starting line-up after a very intense month for the regular starters, some of whom have played seven matches in only 20 days.
Thus, Fabio Coentrao will very likely give Marcelo some rest, while Asier Illarramendi and Isco could also make it among the starting eleven replacing Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema. Gareth Bale’s absence due to physical problems will also allow Jese to feature from the beginning.
Los Merengues have not conceded a goal at the Santiago Bernabeu since November 9th. Espanyol will have to end the hosts impressive defensive run in order to have some options in the tie.
The visitors need at least one goal to force the over-time, but it doesn’t seem like Javier Aguirre will line-up an offensive team. In fact, he could opt for a five-men midfield line, leaving only one striker up front.
Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla has been a key man for Espanyol in their recent clashes against Los Blancos and he will surely look to make an impact on this game as well, especially after being linked with a move back to the Santiago Bernabeu next summer.
Real Madrid: Lopez; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao; Modric, Illarramendi, Di Maria; Jese, Isco, Ronaldo.
Espanyol: Casilla; Rodriguez, Moreno, Sidnei, Capdevila; Stuani, Sanchez, Fernandez, Pizzi; Garcia, Cordoba.