Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will both be absent for Sunday's trip to Espanyol ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

Real Madrid will be without their two most high-profile attacking stars for Sunday's (18 September) La Liga outing at Espanyol.

Manager Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, who were both absent from training yesterday, will miss the trip to Estadio Cornella-El Prat due to illness and injury respectively.

After being sidelined for opening fixtures against Real Sociedad and Celta Vigo due to a busy summer at Euro 2016 and a knee injury that sadly forced him to miss the majority of Portugal's final upset of hosts France in Paris, Ronaldo made his first start of the season at home to Osasuna last weekend.

The three-time Ballon d'Or winner took only six minutes to open the scoring and featured for just over an hour of a typically emphatic 5-2 triumph that saw Real match a club-record streak of 15 consecutive league wins that dates back to the 1960/61 season.

Ronaldo was also deemed fit enough to face one of his former clubs in midweek as Los Blancos began the defence of their 11th European title with an eventful Champions League Group F victory over Sporting Lisbon at the Santiago Bernabeu.

He was instrumental in helping Real to overturn a one-goal deficit caused by an early second-half shot from Bruno Cesar, crashing an excellent 89th minute free-kick in off the post. Alvaro Morata secured victory deep into stoppage time by heading home James Rodriguez's inviting cross.

Zidane's side can equal the La Liga record of 16 successive victories set by Pep Guardiola and Barcelona in February 2011 this weekend, but will have to do so without Ronaldo.

The 31-year-old has scored 11 times in his last three meetings with Espanyol, but will not have the opportunity to extend that formidable record due to a bout of flu.

"Cristiano is not going to travel, he has problems with his throat and we will not take risks," Zidane was quoted as saying by Marca at a pre-match press conference.


Bale, usurped by Paul Pogba as the world's most expensive footballer in August, also enjoyed a Euro 2016 campaign to remember with surprise semi-finalists Wales.

He continued that feelgood factor by netting a brace to help Real open the new campaign with a 3-0 success at Sociedad and scored twice more for his country during the recent international break in a World Cup qualifying rout of Moldova. However, a heavy knock to the hip suffered against Sporting will ensure that he plays no part in Catalonia.

"Bale he received a nasty blow and wants to play but we have a lot of games and we play every three days – we can not risk such an important player," added Zidane, who should have both players back for Wednesday's visit of Villarreal.

Isco joins Marcelo, Casemiro and James back in Real's 19-man travelling squad after an ankle problem, although Fabio Coentrao is not yet ready to be included after returning to first-team training at Valdebebas.

Kiko Casilla will continue between the posts after Zidane declined to name a date for first choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas' eagerly anticipated comeback. He did, however, stress that the Costa Rica international was progressing well exactly 100 days after undergoing surgery on his Achilles tendon.