Jose Mourinho got a great boost today as his Real Madrid prepare to host Espanyol, hoping to cut the gap to the Primera Liga leaders Barcelona to eight points. It had looked like Mourinho would be without his two main strikers again, and was struggling with the decision whether to play Christiano Ronaldo down the middle again or give a start to the young reserve striker Alvaro Morata.
The French international, Karim Benzema, injured his ankle in the midweek cup game at Celta Vigo, and it was announced that only a miracle would allow him to play today. Mourinho must have been praying hard, then, as Benzema is in the squad and will probably start. The Argentinean front man Gonzalo Higuain is still a long term injury absence from Madrid.
Morata is in the squad, and may well see some action, as Mourinho will not want to risk arecurrence of Benzema’s ankle problem. The last time he had a decision like this, Mourinho played Ronaldo as central striker but it did not really work, and the young Morata scored a late winner after coming on.
As long as Madrid win this game, they will be closing the gap on one of the teams above them, as Barcelona face second placed Athletico Madrid in the later kick off. Real Madrid fans everywhere will find themselves in the strange position of supporting their city rivals tonight, if only for 90 minutes.