The sky isn’t falling; Real Madrid aren’t sounding the alarms just yet. Copa del Rey’s last eight isn’t technically out of reach despite their historic loss to Celta Vigo in Vigo.
Manager Jose Mourinho left some of his first team on the shelf during Wednesday’s upset loss and should have nearly all of them back for the clash with Espanyol on Sunday, Dec. 16.
Aitor Karanka, Real’s No. 2 man, said the club was taking every competition seriously after the disappointing upset, according to Tribalfootball.com: "Here we fight for every match and for every title, so we will keep trying to the end and while there is a mathematical possibility of winning we will give it our best shot."
La Liga is what matters most, though, and Los Blancos are still in a favorable position. They can increase their standing and gain three points by blanking the Periquitos on Sunday at the Bernabeu—Real’s last six matches have ended in shutouts over their lowly opponents.
The three points would certainly help the club gain some ground over Barcelona, who currently lead La Liga and are up 11 points on Real with 43.
Espanyol haven’t won at the Bernabeu in quite some time. The last such win for the Catalan side came in a 2-1 victory during the 1995-96 season.
Great squads win the matches they are supposed to win. Wednesday was nothing more than a fluke win for Celta Vigo, in which injuries and opportunity aligned in a perfect storm for the heavy underdogs.
History and fate aren’t going to strike twice. No, they won’t, not in the same week. Not twice in a row at the Bernabeu against one of the most storied football teams in the world.
Disappointing in Copa is one thing, but the defending champs aren’t just going to allow a team of Espanyol’s caliber walk into Madrid and steal three points. Even one point would be a disaster for Real as they try to keep pace with Barca.
A bounce-back win for Mourinho’s side over the Periquitos is all but a formality at this point.