MADRID (Sporting Alert) — Karim Benzema was left out of the Real Madrid FC side altogether for the Spanish La Liga clash against the visiting Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Benzema had been doubtful for the game after picking up an ankle injury in the 2-1 defeat to Celta in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday, but had recovered in time to be included in Jose Mourinho’s 20-man squad.
However, the French striker, who was set to start on the bench, according to a team official, was not risk for today so Cristiano Ronaldo, who normally plays down the left flank, is expected to feature as the main forward – something he’s easily capable of doing.
Jose Callejon, Luka Modric and Mesut Ozil will play alongside the former Manchester United star, with Angel Di Maria dropping to bench.
Iker Casillas returns to play in goal after sitting out the Celta clash, while full-back Fabio Coentrao is also back in the team after an injury which placed him on the sidelines.
Mourinho as also decided to pair Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira in his central midfield again as Real Madrid look to keep tabs on leaders Barcelona and second-place Atletico Madrid, who will play each other tonight.
The likes of Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Essien, Kaka and Modric all start on the bench, while Raul Albiol
Marcelo, Raphael Varane and Gonzalo Higuain all out injured.
Real Madrid are in third place with 32 points, 11 points behind Barcelona and five behind Atletico.
Sergio Garcia, who was suspended for the last four matches after being dismissed against Valencia and Simao are two featured names in the starting team for Espanyol tonight.
Real Madrid FC: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Coentrão, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Modric, Ozil, Ronaldo Callejón.
Subs: Adán, Carvalho, Essien, Di María, Kaká, Nacho, Morata.