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The 1-0 defeat will lead to questions over Zidane's decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo, while Karim Benzema started the midweek fixture on the bench.

Gerard Moreno scored three minutes into injury time to give Espanyol the victory against the defending champions.

The defeat left Los Blancos trailing La Liga leaders and fierce rivals Barcelona by 14 points, with the Catalan giants yet to play their game in hand. Atletico were yesterday to host CD Leganes and Barcelona visit Las Palmas today.

Zidane had rotated heavily thinking of next week's Champions League last-16 second leg at Paris Saint-Germain, although the XI still included worldwide stars like Bale, Ramos, Raphael Varane and Isco.

Madrid battles Getafe CF at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid before facing PSG in a second game of a two game Champions League series at 2:45 p.m. on March 6 at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France.

Real Madrid players celebrate with the FIFA Club World Cup trophy following their victory in the final football match against Gremio at Zayed Sports City Stadium in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi on December 16, 2017. Benzema replaced Isco in the 69th minute.

Survival of the first 10-15 minute onslaught has seen teams eek out draws and wins this season, and the lack of late headed winners from Sergio Ramos hasn't been able to save them either. Its last league win came eight rounds ago, at Levante.

Keylor Navas has stressed that Real Madrid must have the "character to keep going" after crashing to a 1-0 defeat at Espanyol on Tuesday night. "This result restores our confidence after a series of poor results".

Real defender Sergio Ramos was playing as an extra striker at the end as Moreno controlled Sergio Garcia's cross before smashing the ball home. With the disappointing result, Madrid are likely to find themselves in the fourth spot if Valencia win away at Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.