Real Madrid vs Espanyol preview - Real focus on European final

Posted Friday, May 16, 2014 by PA

You could be forgiven for forgetting that Real Madrid still have a league match to play such is the focus on the upcoming Champions League final at the Bernabeu.

Madrid still have the opportunity to finish above rivals Barcelona, but since last weekend's 2-0 loss to Celta Vigo ended their hopes of winning La Liga, attention has shifted almost entirely to next weekend's clash with Atletico Madrid in Lisbon, where they have a chance to win a 10th European crown.

"We are just thinking about beating Atletico," said midfielder Luka Modric. "We are focused on the game and then we'll see how we celebrate it."

Madrid could also be forgiven for looking away from the league, where they face the unpalatable choice of seeing either city rivals Atletico or arch-rivals Barcelona take the title as the two go head-to-head at the Nou Camp later in the day.

An Atletico win would open the door for Madrid to go above Barca into second with victory over Espanyol, but rather than fight for a top-two finish it seems more likely that Carlo Ancelotti will choose to rest his star players for the showdown in Lisbon.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a certainty to miss out after niggling injuries in recent weeks, while Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are also carrying knocks which will mean they are not risked.

Espanyol, safe from relegation but too far from the European race, likewise have little to play for on paper, but striker Christian Stuani insisted they would be going all-out for a win to end the season.

"We take it very seriously," he told the club's website.

"Although nothing will change much in the standings, we will always defend our reputation and we want to win. I, for one, have never won there."



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