MADRID, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will not be resting any players as his side return to Cornella El- Prat Stadium to play Espanyol in the first leg of the quarter- final of the Copa del Rey knockout competition.
It has been a good few days for Real Madrid who have seen their two main rivals for the BBVA Primera Liga title, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid drop four points each in their last two league games, allowing Madrid to move to within one point of the top of the table.
"We were where we want to be," admitted Ancelotti in his pre- game press conference., before remembering his side's 1-0 win in the same ground just over a week ago.
"We need to repeat the league game against Espanyol and try to improve on it if we can, as they could surprise us," he said.
"Espanyol are a tough side who are very intense and they will look to take a lead in the tie. Our aim is not to resolve the tie tomorrow, because it will be decided in the Santiago Bernabeu," he said.
Although he will take his strongest available squad, Ancelotti will make some changes to his starting 11, as Sergio Ramos is a doubt with a slight physical problem, giving Nacho Gonzalez the chance to start in defense.
Meanwhile Isco could also start in an advanced midfield role after Ancelotti said as much in his conference, hinting that he could give a rest to striker Karim Benzema.
The Espanyol-Real Madrid tie is the first of the four quarter- final clashes and Wednesday will see two more as Barcelona return to play Levante after their 1-1 draw in the Ciudad de Valencia Stadium in the league on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile Real Sociedad have a great chance to reach the semi- finals of the competition as they take on third tier Racing Santander, who have nonetheless surprised Sevilla and Almeria in the competition, before the tie of the round sees its first leg on Thursday as reigning Cup holders Atletico Madrid entertain Athletic Club Bilbao, who are having a great season in the league and were beaten finalists in 2012 and 2009.