Gareth Bale
Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale remains out of action with a calf injuryReuters

Real Madrid will look to keep pace with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the La Liga title race when they host Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu on 31 January.

Where to watch live

Kick-off is set for 7.30pm GMT. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 1 HD.

Overview

Real Madrid's perfect record under Zinedine Zidane came to an end last weekend as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Real Betis in Seville. With title rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid playing each other on 30 January, Real have a golden opportunity to bounce back from that disappointment and close the gap to the top two.

Cristiano Ronaldo has shaken off a muscle problem and is expected to start against Espanyol but Gareth Bale (calf) is unlikely to be risked. Centre-back Pepe could be rested with Sergio Ramos returning to starting line-up after a two-match absence.

Espanyol are on a seven-game winless run in all competitions and have not won away from home since a 3-1 success over Real Betis in October. The Catalan side have lost their seven head-to-head meetings with Real Madrid.

Midfielder Victor Alvarez and forward Gerard Moreno are suspended for the visitors, while Jose Canas, Anaitz Arbilla (both foot) and Felipe Caicedo (hamstring) are all sidelined through injury. On-loan duo Marco Asensio and Burgui are ineligible to play against their parent club.

Lithuanian goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis is likely to be named on the bench after arriving on a loan deal from Premier League club Watford.

What managers say

Zinedine Zidane: "We expected Betis like this. This is a difficult place to play, great fans. And their goal was superb. I did not expect to drop points. But football is like this. If you don't take your chances, this can happen. I am taking the positives from the game we played. I could not reproach my players in anything."

Constantin Galca: "Today we have been very close to winning [against Villarreal], but the result is what it is. We did not have enough of the ball and we needed to have more [possession]."

Form guide

  • Real Madrid: DWWDW
  • Last result: Real Betis 1-1 Real Madrid
  • Espanyol (all competitions): DLLLL
  • Last result: Espanyol 2-2 Villarreal

Betting odds (888sport)

  • Real Madrid win: 1/10
  • Draw: 10
  • Espanyol win: 25

Team news

Real Madrid possible XI: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Isco; Rodriguez, Benzema, Ronaldo

Espanyol possible XI: P Lopez; J Lopez, Gonzalez, Roco, Duarte; Diop, Jordan; Perez, Abraham, Sevilla; Sylla