Real Madrid see off Espanyol to reclaim top spot
Real Madrid vs Espanyol: as it happened
And that sends Real Madrid top for the moment, pending Barcelona's result this evening at home against Mallorca.
Raphaël Varane opened the scoring from an assist from his countryman earlier in the game.
Karim Benzema again proved the difference for Madrid and you wonder where they would be at the moment without him. The Frenchman killed the game with his strike and was bustling throughout.
And that's it! Real carve out a 2-0 victory over 19th-placed Espanyol. Nobody with anything other than green-tinted glasses would pretend it was a decent display, but the home side got the job done with several first team players out injured so a decent afternoon's work from Zidane's point of view.
It's taken short and Espanyol have one more chance to get on the score sheet. It's out for a Real throw and that will probably be that...
And then he bursts though towards goal and forces Darder into a last ditch challenge. Free kick to Real about 25 yards out, Modric over it...
Poor touch from Brahim as he gifts the ball to Espanyol in midfield.
Two minutes added.
Good work from Militão as he hurtles back to prevent a corner.
Campuzano flagged offside. Incredibly, that's the first offside call of the game. Wish we'd had a fiver on that.
And it's straight to Diego López. Courtois' distribution has been pretty shoddy this afternoon.
Courtois taking his sweet Belgian time over a goal kick...
A sea of green shirts in the Real half. The most advanced, Benzema, is about 20 yards from the halfway line.
Real will try and and shut this down now...
Vinicius off to an ovation, Militão on. It looks as though Brahim will get a few minutes as well, with Rodrygo also applauded off.
That's a blow for young Brahim as well, as he was preparing to come on. Zidane instead motions to Militão to get his boots laced...
Mendy is off! He can't argue about that as he flattens Víctor Gómez. That means Real will be without their two senior left backs for Valencia next weekend. Nacho can't get back quickly enough for Zidane...
Benzema and Valverde swap passes in the area and the Frenchman makes no mistake from close range to chalk up his 11th league goal of the season.
Espanyol's plan now seems to be to soak up Real's pressure and then find a way to send Campuzano tearing away towards goal.
Campuzano again wreaks havoc in the area and Ramos does well to block. Marc Roca swings a boot at the rebound but hits his shot straight at Courtois.
And it's Campuzano who wins a corner, but it's hit straight into Courtois gloves.
Valverde goes in the book for bringing down Campuzano in full flight. The Espanyol sub has looked dangerous since coming on, begging the question what might have been had he started?
Granero gets an ovation from his former fans in the Bernabéu as he heads off.
An opening for Rodrygo, who has been rather quiet this afternoon, but his control is poor and it's out for a goal kick.
Kroos off, Modric on.
But he almost provides an assist there as he slips inside and finds Benzema, who flashes a shot just wide of the right hand stick!
It really hasn't been Vinicius' afternoon. He does well to reach a ball down the line but then slips and falls as he glides into the area.
Ramos is up to clear though and Real break again...
Now Espanyol get another bite of the cherry at the other end... Granero over it.
In the end it's Casemiro who has a go but his shot is high into the stands.
Free kick to Madrid on the edge of the area. Kroos settling the ball with care. Looks like he'll have a pop from here, but Ramos is also eyeing it up.
Terrible mistake from Bernardo, who gifts the ball to Benzema in the Parakeet half. He has little choice than to play in Vinicius and Diego López remains untroubled. Benzema might have had three or four assists this afternoon with a more competent strike partner.
Change for Espanyol, Campuzano comes on for Wu Lei.
Mendy takes one for the team as he hauls down Víctor Gómez to prevent an Espanyol break. He knows what he did. Not one word of complaint from the Frenchman.
It's deep into the box but Espanyol clear.
Mendy wins a corner on the left. Kroos to take...
Calero goes in the book for clattering into Rodrygo in midfield.
Varane, who has been Madrid's best player by far this afternoon, effortlessly dispossesses Calleri as the Espanyol forward attempted to go around him.
Odd from Courtois, who elects to roll a ball to Carvajal in the area. The defender has no choice but to belt it upfield and Espanyol regain possession.
A rare misplaced pass from Kroos is followed by a rare shot hit nearer to the corner flag than the target from the German. Cue Luka Modric warming up on the sideline.
Which comes to nothing. Real mop up and it's a goal kick.
Wu Lei! What an opening for the Espanyol striker, who scuffs his shot under pressure from Ramos. He does win a corner though...
Diego López! What a save! Madrid with the simplest of breaks, Valverde knocking it long for Benzema, and the Frenchman is clean through. His final touch was a little heavy which sent him a bit further to the left than he would have liked but he still found the target, and the towering form of López to deny him.
Blimey... Mendy finds himself with a shooting chance and we are given an idea as to why he favours his left peg as he hits the roof with a wild swipe.
Here are Real Madrid's last 10 results. Just that loss in Mallorca spoiling the report card.
Espanyol have a free kick after Ramos commits a foul in midfield but it's hoiked long and straight out for a goal kick.
What a tackle from Casemiro to deny Darder! In the area, under the pressure that brings, the Brazilian slides in and takes the ball with a clean boot and a cool head. Excellent work from the defensive midfielder, sparing the blushes of his central defenders.
We're back underway!
There's not an awful lot on the bench for Machín in the absence of Facundo and Matías Vargas but Víctor Campuzano has bagged five this season, making him the side's second-highest scorer this season.
Espanyol are still very much in this game and Zidane will be keen for a fast start to the second half to try and secure a second goal. The chances of the visitors coming back from that can be described as pretty slim - they've scored more than one goal only twice this season.
And that's the half!
It's a decent delivery from Granero but hacked clear. There's a bit of a kerfuffle as David López appeals for a penalty and then goes down clutching his face after a brush with Carvajal. The ref, probably wisely, just ignores the whole nonsense and wanders off down the tunnel.
Final chance of the half for Espanyol as Mendy gives away a free kick out on the left.
Darder almost plays in Calleri and claims a handball against Casemiro but the ref is unimpressed.
Two minutes added at the Bernabéu.
Lightning break from Real! Courtois to Benzema, Benzema to Vinicius, and the Brazilian turns on the afterburners to get himself into a one-on-one with López. Predictably, the shot is straight at the keeper though.
That was Varane's fourth league goal for Madrid and he prevents one at the other end with a vital block to hand Espanyol a corner.
And there's no comeback for the Brazilian, who made himself scarce after the challenge and escapes further punishment.
No VAR for yellow card decisions of course, so unless the lino flags it Vinicius will remain on the pitch.
Hello, Vinicius clatters into David López in midfield and the Parakeets are furious, demanding a second yellow for the Brazilian. It looked as though Vinicius had slipped going into the challenge but it was still probably a cautionable offence. We wait...
That will come as a blow to Espanyol, who have defended stoutly in the opening half and might have expected to go into the break on level terms.
Gooooooooooooooool! And it's Varane who finally breaks the deadlock with a crisp left-footed strike from the edge of the six yard box!
Real attack down the left again and this time it's Mendy who allows the move to break down. The ball falls to Valverde though and he unleashes a cracker that requires a López paw to sent it behind for a corner.
Rodrygo does well to win a corner with his tenacity... but he's a little too tenacious and pulled up for a foul on Didac.
Viniciua again. Across the face of goal again. To a blue and white shirt again.
And here's the bottom, where Espanyol won't profit much from a draw. They'll be more than happy with one today though.
Vinicius... but no dice. The Brazilian again works himself into a decent position on the left but again fails to find a final ball and rolls it straight to a defender. He has the raw talent for sure, but Zidane needs to instill some composure in the key moments.
Here's how it looks at the top as things stand.
It's a poor delivery though and Mendy nods it clear.
The current Espanyol boss made his name at Girona by mastering the set piece. Granero over one now...
Varane attempts to bypass the clogged midfield with a long ball for Benzema but we suspect the home side won't profit much from that approach against a Machín side.
He looks for Ramos but Espanyol are no mugs and have the Real captain well covered. The visitors will know that if they can keep Madrid's aerial threat from set pieces under wraps they're halfway to a clean sheet.
Free to Madrid about 40 yards out. Kroos over it...
Granero! El Pirata forces Courtois into a snap save as Calleri finds the former Real man at the far post. He gets a firm header on target and the Belgian had to be sharp there!
Bit of a lull as the game gets bogged down in midfield, a few little fouls, a couple of throws, both sides trying to feel the other out and find that weak spot to exploit.
The visitors with a period of possession now as they settle into the game after that early Madrid flurry. No way through for the Parakeets though.
Lofted towards the box but the whistle goes as Varane is clobbered in the back.
Espanyol now with a free back near the halfway line.
Espanyol looking like making it to 20 without conceding. That's about the sort of time delay fuse the Bernabéu fans require to start griping at their side.
After a bit of a grumble and a grimace it seems that López will be fine to continue. Which is very good news for Espanyol fans.
López is down in agony after being clattered by Vinicius, who gets a yellow for his troubles. Perhaps a bit harsh, it was a 50-50 ball, but he did go in with the studs showing.
Granero finds his way into the book for a stamp on Kroos. That's not a good time for one of your more combative midfielders to pick up a caution.
Benzema! Vinicius again springs the Espanyol offside trap and feeds the Frenchman, who places his shot straight at López. Bread and butter for the Parakeets stopper.
Espanyol are asking to be punished for the ridiculously high line they are playing as Vinicius is put through. He can't find the telling pass though.
It's cleared initially but a mistake from Bernardo opens up a shooting chance for Rodrygo. He snatches at it though and it's high and wide.
A slick move from Madrid ends with Valverde's shot ricocheting out for a corner. Ramos and Varane up for this...
It's lofted into the area but cleared and Madrid win a free of their own as Marc Roca clips Kroos' heels in midfield.
Free kick for the Parakeets miles out. Former Madrid midfielder Granero over it...
That was a pretty easy save for the former Real keeper but we suspect he'll have a few more to make this afternoon. It's pretty much all Madrid at the moment with Espanyol sitting back and looking for the chance to break.
Vinicius! The Brazilian wriggles into the area, shakes off a defender and hits a shot as he's falling to the floor and López is forced into a save. First proper chance of the game and a shot on target from the Brazilian!
This time it's Wu who tries to find a blue and white shirt in the area but hits his cross straight at Courtois.
Calleri attempts to find Wu Lei at the far stick but overcooks his cross and it bobs out for a goal kick under the watchful eye of Courtois.
The first sniff of an opening for Madrid as Rodrygo pings a cross into the area but it was hopeful rather than aimed and Espanyol hoof it clear.
Plenty of early possession for Madrid, with Espanyol happy enough to sit back and soak it up at this stage.
And we're off! Madrid get the ball rolling in the Bernabéu in their green shirts.
The teams are out and the cutomary handshakes underway.
And Espanyol's. Machín shaking his tactics up this afternoon with a 3-5-2. He'll aim to control the midfield as best he can.
- 13 Diego López
- 20 Bernardo
- 15 David López
- 24 Calero
- 21 Marc Roca
- 23 Granero
- 10 Darder
- 34 Víctor Gómez Perea
- 17 Dídac
- 7 Wu Lei
- 12 Jonathan Calleri
Here's a reminder of Madrid's line.up for today.
- 13 Courtois
- 2 Carvajal
- 4 Sergio Ramos
- 23 Ferland Mendy
- 5 Varane
- 8 Kroos
- 14 Casemiro
- 15 Federico Valverde
- 25 Vinicius Junior
- 9 Benzema
- 27 Rodrygo
Zidane has only two players who haven't missed a single match this season, Sergio Ramos and Casemiro. Along with Benzema, who sat out the win at Osasuna but has otherwise been ever-present, they form the spine of the side and the Real boss will be looking to them today to provide some leadership.
Real Madrid arriving at the stadium earlier. We're about half an hour away from kick-off at the Bernabéu now.
Wu Lei will become the first Chinese player in history to make an official club appearance in the Bernabéu this afternoon and there's a fair bit of expectation in China, where viewing figures are expected to be smashed for a Spanish league game.
Machín's side have only two wins to their name all season and sit 19th in the table, so travelling fans won't be expecting any miracles today. You can 20/1 on the 0-0 draw and Espanyol may decide that shutting up shop is the best way to get through the lunch hour in Madrid.
Generally, the stats make for pretty grim reading for Parakeets fans. Espanyol have not won at the Bernabéu since Noah was packing em in two by two, although they did beat Madrid at the RCDE last year by a goal to nil, while Real only managed a 1-0 win in this fixture last season.
Real Madrid will be wearing their green away kit this afternoon, and you can read all about why that is right here.
Still no return for Nacho, who is in full training but not yet ready to make a competitive return, while poor old Mariano fails to even make the bench again despite all the absentees up front.
Zidane is placing his faith in the two Brazilian teenagers to support the evergreen Karim Benzema today but chief among the Frenchman's concerns will be injuries: he can scarcely afford to lose anyone else this afternoon with Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Lucas Vázquez, Marco Asensio, Marcelo, Nacho and James Rodríguez all out
And here's Espanyol's starting XI! Former Real Madrid stopper Diego López, who cut short Iker Casillas' career at the Bernabéu, will be aiming to keep a clean sheet against his former employers while Wu Lei gets the nod with dead ball specialist Sergi Darder, former Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero and Jonathan Calleri all included.
As if by magic, we have team news! And Rodrygo and Vinicius do both start for the home side. Ferland Mendy comes in for Marcelo on the left of defence while Fede Valverde continues in midfield.
Zinedine Zidane has a pretty lengthy injury list to contend with, meaning that Rodrygo and Vinicius wil lget a look in at some stage today, with at least one of the Brazilian teenagers starting.
For a quick look as to how and where you can watch this game (and a few bits and bobs of team news etc), feel free to consult our handy pre-match guide.
Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of Real Madrid vs Espanyol from the Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid. Kick-off is at 13:00 CET.