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Wu Lei to lead the line as Espanyol look to overturn recent history against Real Madrid

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-10-02 20:10
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Wu Lei in action during a Spanish second division league football match between RCD Espanyol and Malaga CF in Cornella, Spain, May 2, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

MADRID -- Chinese international striker Wu Lei will play against Real Madrid when Espanyol entertain the La Liga leaders on Sunday.

The striker has delayed his flight to play for the Chinese national team in order to play in a vital game for both teams and will now reunite with his international teammates on Monday morning.

Espanyol go into the match on the back of a 2-0 defeat away to Sevilla, which left them in 14th place in La Liga with six points and just one win from their first seven games on their return to the top-flight, in which they have shown themselves to be an organized side that relies perhaps too much on the goals of former Real Madrid forward Raul de Tomas.

Recent meetings with Madrid won't give Espanyol fans much room for optimism, with just three wins against a team they enjoy an excellent off-field relationship with in their last 32-meetings.

Real Madrid travel to Barcelona after a difficult week which saw them held to a 0-0 draw at home to Villarreal last weekend, before suffering a shock 2-1 defeat to Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Although Carlo Ancelotti's men were unlucky not to get a better result on Wednesday after peppering the visitors' goal with shots, these two results have raised the first question marks over the Italian coach and he will want to go into the international break with three points to avoid a difficult fortnight.

Ancelotti is still conditioned by injuries to left backs Marcelo and Ferland Mendy, after Mendy had looked close to a return earlier in the week. That could see either Nacho Fernandez or Miguel Gutierrez line up on the left, although Nacho is more likely to play on the right, given Ancelotti's apparent lack of confidence in Lucas Vazquez and a failed experiment with Fede Valverde a week ago.

Valverde will probably play in midfield, where Casemiro has looked flat in recent matches, although Toni Kroos will also offer options in the middle, while Dani Ceballos and Gareth Bale are still out.

Past history says Real Madrid are clear favorites, but anything but a win will be a huge boost for Espanyol and a problem for Ancelotti.

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