La Liga Sunday match programme closes with a game at Estadi Cornella-El Prat where home side Espanyol will welcome the European champions Real Madrid, who are coming off from a difficult midweek challenge.
Espanyol – Work in Progress
Having finished the 2015-16 season in 13th place in La Liga standings, Espanyol would have hoped for a better start to the new campaign. It was a rough couple of weeks for Quique Sanchez Flores’ side though as Espanyol are yet to record their first La Liga win this term. Having opened the season with a demoralising 4-6 loss to Sevilla, Espanyol were put to a halt on two consecutive occasions, against Malaga and Real Sociedad as they had to settle for 2-2 and 1-1 draws, respectively. Espanyol manager is refusing to lose his head over the initial results, claiming that his side are still work in progress. Quique Sanchez Flores expects his team to yet reach its full potential and grow both mentally or physically in forthcoming weeks, with a highly anticipating match against Real Madrid seen as a chance for Espanyol to put in a memorable performance that would be a morale boost for new challenges. There is little room for optimism though, knowing that Los Blancos have won last eight matches against Esnayol in all competitions.
Javi Fuego is under suspension and will be unavailable for selection on Sunday. Andres Prieto, Alvaro Gonzales and Jose Antonio Reyes are struggling with their respective injuries and will also be missing the Real Madrid clash.
Six in a row for Real Madrid
Zinedine Zidane’s men have been made to work hard to earn a win in their UEFA Champions League group stage opener against Sporting on Wednesday. Cristiano Ronaldo’s former team opened the scoring three minutes into the second half through Cesar and seemed like they were heading toward a huge victory over reigning European champions when Ronaldo and Morata stepped under the limelight with their respective goals in the dying moments of the match for a morale boosting come-from-behind triumph that will have been highly motivating for Los Blancos. Wednesday’s triumph was Real Madrid’s sixth consecutive in all competitions this season, which would have come as a huge delight to Real Madrid’s board, staff and the fans alike. Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to action following the knee injury he suffered in the Euro 2016 final was seen as a huge boost for the team and seeing him score against his boyhood club was of particular emotional significance. Los Blancos get back to La Liga action with a trip to Espanyol at the weekend and they will be highly motivated to continue the streak and record their seventh in a row.
Zinedine Zidane will not be able to call upon his first-choice keeper Keylor Navas, who remains on the sidelines through injury. Fabio Coentrao is another unavailable member of the first team, but Real Madrid manager will have no other selection issues to worry about.
The numbers, the current form and individual quality are all against Espanyol. Quique Sanchez Flores’ men will be forced to wait a bit longer for their first win of the season as they are going head to head with a raging Real Madrid, who are in formidable form early in the 2016-17 season. Away win is on the cards here.
Top pick: Real Madrid/Real Madrid 2.05 (21/20) @Coral
Alternative pick 1: Real Madrid to win to Nil 2.62 (13/8) Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score – No 2.30 (13/10) @BetVictor