Madrid: Real Madrid need to win and convince the doubters when they play against Espanyol’s away at the Power 8 Stadium in a La Liga match on Saturday, but Rafael Benitez’s side will be without two key players when they do so.
James Rodriguez and right back Danilo both returned from international duty with injuries which will keep them out of action for between three and four weeks, reports Xinhua.
The good news for Benitez is that he will be able to replace them with Spain internationals Isco and Javier Carvajal, showing the depth he has in his squad.
Benitez had been criticised in pre-season for the lack of goals his side had scored, but the 5-0 defeat of Real Betis ahead of the international break appeared to answer those questions, especially as Gareth Bale, who had also been under the spotlight, got his name on the scoresheet twice.
Now the focus of attention is likely to switch to Cristiano Ronaldo, who has not been at his best so far this season and who has not looked comfortable in some matches, with James sidelined Ronaldo may find more space to cut in from the left: his favourite position.
Speaking ahead of the game on Friday, Benitez was questioned over the news that goalkeeper David de Gea, who was so close to joining Madrid in the transfer season, had signed a new contract with Manchester United.
The coach joked that Madrid’s goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who would have gone the other way as part of the deal “would be delighted” by the news.
“Keylor has worked as well as he always has and he has been excellent in training, I’m delighted he is still here,” added Benitez. Espanyol on paper look to have a thinner squad than last season, but have signed talented Madrid youngster Marco Asensio on loan for the season.
It is unsure whether the teenager will play against the club which owns him and his presence or not could determine whether or not coach Sergio Gonzalez decides to try and pack the midfield or adopt a brave approach with two strikers in his starting team.