Match Recap: Real Madrid Vs. Espanyol

20 Jan

Pre Match flags outsideOh hello winning! I’ve missed you!

After two losses in a row we headed back to the Bernabeu to get our aggression out against Espanyol, that other Barcelona team.

There was a giant banner in support of our darling Cristiano.

Prior to the start of the match, Iker presented the FIFA Club World Cup trophy to the Bernabeu. It’s not quite as fun as presenting Martin like Simba, but it’s still fun.

Lineups:

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Raphael Varane, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao; Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez, Isco; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Espanyol: Kiko Casilla; Anaitz Arbilla, Diego Colotto, Alvaro Gonzalez, Juan Fuentes; Jose Cañas, Joan Jordan, Paco Montañes, Victor Sanchez; Sergio Garcia, Felipe Caicedo

Minute of silence for ParisPrior to the start, the Bernabeu observed a minute of silence to honor the victims of the Paris attacks.

When the match started, it was Espanyol on the front foot. The got their first shot, directly to Iker, in the 4th minute. We managed to get possession back and Gareth headed the ball over the bar in the 6th minute.

By the 10th minute, we had started to apply real pressure. And the post denied Karim’s shot much to my disappointment. I need Benz goals in my life, what can I say?

The good news was that Cris played the ball into James just a minute later, and James found the back of the net.

I love the way James nuzzles Cris in that second gif. I just wonder what Bale had to say about that…

In the 17th minute we had another chance, with my Baby Varane getting his head to a corner. It was just wide of the post, though.

Espanyol were countering well, however. In the 20th minute, Caicedo tried to run behind our defense, but he wasn’t getting the service he needed. Espanyol, to me, were only the latest team to figure out how to get beyond our tired defense. The difference was, they weren’t able to make it work due to service.

In the 28th minute, we earned a freekick when Isco was taken down by Montanes. In the process of setting up, Fuentes was given the first yellow of the match for dissent.

Gareth lined up for the freekick and took it beautifully. It was a world class freekick (it made Cris proud) that absolutely screamed into the net off the post. We now had a 2-0 lead at home and it felt like we were back to our winning ways.

We continued to dominate possession for the most part. There were a few chances for Espanyol but either Varane was there to clear or the odd shot was directly at Iker.

With about 10 minutes left in the half, the play really opened up however, and it was kind of fun to watch such end-to-end footie/soccer. Maybe I’m odd, but I love watching exciting matches with lots of end-to-end. As long as the other team doesn’t score anyway…

The half ended with our two goal lead and a relatively lively crowd at the Bernabeu (which hasn’t really been the case lately, no?)

Second Half:

As seems to be normal, not that I consider it bad, neither side made any changes at the half. In the 48th minute, Garcia sent a dangerous cross to the far post but Caicedo couldn’t get to it. And in the 50th minute, Garcia proved to be a bit squirrely again as he found himself in space and had a shot that moved wide of the post. This was not a position I liked having us in, but apparently it could always get worse.

It got worse when Coentrao and Canas both slid in for a 50/50 ball in the 53rd minute. Both players were injured by the play but it was Coentrao who was sent off with a straight red. Cris was booked as well for his protesting and, I guess, his sarcastic attempt to get the crowd to applaud.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy with the red card. In fact, I don’t think it deserved red mostly because both players were involved in the tackle. I couldn’t find gifs of the other angle I saw, but at other angles you can see Coentrao attempt to pull out of the tackle. Additionally, I don’t feel you can card one without the other. Both players went into the tackle. At most, I think the ref should have given yellow to both players. It’s my understanding (and by all means, I am open to discussion on this) that a straight red is usually issued for intent. Refs aren’t going to get it right every time (I’m looking at you in the 2010 World Cup final, Howard Webb) but there are moments that deserve straight red and moments that don’t (just call me ‘Master of the Obvious’). This was not one that deserved it to me.

We were forced to make a change after that, with Ancelotti sacrificing James for the extra defender. Nacho(Stalker!) came on to shore up that newly vacant hole in defense.

In the 59th minute, Victor was booked for a late challenge on Iker just after a counter attack by Espanyol.

In the 62nd minute, Cris settled a long ball played into the box and turned for his shot but Fuentes was there to block.

Espanyol made a sub in the 63rd minute, bringing on Luque to replace Sanchez. And in the 65th minute, Ancelotti decided to bring in Illaramendi for Benzema. I didn’t get my Benz goal, much to my disappointment.

We stepped up our play, and Nacho delivered a very nice cross into the box that was cleared for a corner. Then, that corner found Varane but his header was just too high.

In the 69th minute, Joan was replaced by Stuani for Espanyol.

Nacho made another great cross into the box but Gareth’s header was just wide of the far post in the 71st minute. Arbilla picked up a yellow card in the same minute for pushing Gareth.

In the 76th minute I got something even better than a Benz goal. NACHO!!!

Arbeloa played a deep cross and Nacho settled it nicely before firing into the bottom corner.

I love how happy everyone is for Nacho’s first goal! And how happy he is, obviously.

Isco had a chance to make it a four goal lead in the 81st minute but Casilla (so confusing) made an excellent save to deny our little bow-legged cutie.

In the 82nd minute, both sides made changes with Ancelotti allowing Sami some playing time and Toni a much deserved rest. For Espanyol, Abraham came in to replace Garcia.

In the 86th minute, Isco played a very nice pass toward Bale for what would have been a nice break on goal but Gareth was offside.

After two minutes of added time, the ref blew the whistle and we had our win. It was a nice pick-me-up after the Copa loss at Calderon. I hoped we could carry it into a dominating performance against Atleti at home.

Match Photos:

Post-Match Comments:

Ancelotti post matchAncelotti:

“Bale is a fundamental player like Cristiano, and that’s why the fans demand more from them than from others,“ he added.

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media in the Santiago Bernabéu press room and analysed Real Madrid’s comprehensive win over Espanyol: “The sending-off of Coentrão is an incomprehensible decision. It made the match more difficult for us but the team was in good mental shape and we dealt with it well.”

“Bale put in a very, very good match. He played with intensity and scored a goal. Maybe in that moment the fans were calling for a pass to Cristiano which he didn’t play and, like every forward in front of goal, he tried to score. Selflessness is a very important element of the team this year.”

Fans
“If there is any piece of play that appears selfish, we’ll fix it. We have supporters who demand a lot. Bale is a fundamental player like Cristiano, and that’s why the fans demand more from them than from others. I think that’s normal and fair.”

Relationship between Bale and Cristiano
“We shouldn’t start a fuss over these things. It’s a moment in football of the sort that happen often. The relationship between the players, not just between those two, is very good and the team has always shown that. We work with the same aim of taking Real Madrid as high as possible, and I don’t think it’s fair to carry on talking about this subject.”

“Cristiano looks the same to me as always. He’s in great physical condition, playing for the team. He didn’t score, but his assist on the first goal was fantastic. He looks the same to me as always.”

Copa tie
“We have time to prepare for the match well. We’ll field our best team, because we’re going to try to turn the tie around and do everything we can to reach the quarter-finals. Everyone is waiting for this game, but right now we have to be calm. We’re going to prepare for it, and playing at home is going to help us.”

Isco and Kroos
“Isco doesn’t surprise me. He has been playing very well for a long time. He is playing consistently, which he didn’t last year, and that’s how he’s improved. Kroos is at an excellent level considering that he’s a new player. He has slotted into the team with his personality and his characteristics. He’s helping the team.”

Varane
“I’m surprised, because I didn’t know that Varane’s agent was Mendes. I spoke to his agent three days ago, and he wasn’t his agent. Varane will be a Real Madrid player for a long time.”

Isco post matchIsco:

Isco played in the win against Espanyol and offered his thoughts about the game after the final whistle: “We got into the game really quickly. At last we have our first win of the year and we are happy with the result”.

“We closed down more today, we were good at going after the ball when we lost it, putting on pressure and we had a bit of luck in front of goal, that has been missing in the last few matches. It was a shame that Coentrão was sent off, that made us have to work a lot. It happened quickly. I couldn’t really see it properly, both players went in but ultimately the referee has the final say”.

The Copa del Rey
“It is important to get the winning feeling back. We are very confident about turning the Copa del Rey knockout tie around. It is going to be very difficult but I hope that we can manage it with the support of the fans”.

Varane:

“We worked well and as a team to earn the victory”
“We wanted to get back to winning ways, that was the aim, and this is a very good result. We also earned the result well. It was difficult in the second half, when we had ten men, it was more complicated but we worked well and as a team to get the win. The team reacted well”.

“Pepe and I had solid games, especially in terms of aerial play, and we have to continue on like that. I think that I can improve in offense and score goals”.

The game against Atlético
“We can stage a comeback in the Copa del Rey knockout game with the support of the fans and lots of willpower. We are really motivated by seeing how people get excited and how they really want to win. As for the Ballon d’Or, we are all supporting Cristiano”.

Nacho post matchNacho:

Nacho scored his first goal for Real Madrid in the win against Espanyol at the Bernabéu. The defender was happy at the end of the game: “I am really happy with my goal for Real Madrid and with the victory. I am very happy because it is important for people to show their love for you when playing at home”.

“We came here following two games in which we didn’t manage to play at our best, but generally speaking, we had a good game today. We go home with good feelings about our game on Thursday against Atlético”.

Bale and Cristiano
“We cannot question Bale and Cristiano’s dedication to Madrid, and how they are great team mates. All of the players want to score, there is nothing more to it”.

The Copa del Rey game
“We are Real Madrid and we are playing at home with our fans. We need their support, we can win. It wouldn’t be a disaster to lose because we are playing against a strong rival, and if we go through it would be a great moment for us.”

Arbeloa:

“We needed this win”
“It would be good if the match between Barcelona and Atlético ends in a draw, but the important thing is that we keep notching up points in La Liga”.

“The game on Thursday is really important. We really want to do it, we want to answer back, and give everything we can to get another comeback. We know that the fans are crucial if we want to do it. Undoubtedly, they will be great as always on Thursday”. 

Bale
“The fans here are demanding and if you make a mistake, they let you know about it, but Bale cannot be blamed for anything today. He scored an amazing goal and he may have made a few mistakes, but he is a player you have to show affection for and the fans know how to appreciate him”.

The Ballon d’Or
“I hope that Cristiano can win and we can celebrate another Ballon d’Or because he deserves it”.  

Coentrão’s sending off
“I haven’t been able to watch it on television. On the pitch it seemed that it was a case of two players going in really strong to win the ball, with good intentions and going for the ball”.

Many, many, many apologies for the lateness of this and the last couple of matches. I promise to sort my issues and not make this happen again!

¡Hala Madrid!

-mygypsyspirit

One Response to “Match Recap: Real Madrid Vs. Espanyol”

  1. kfunk22 January 21, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    still swooning over bale’s free kick. and lovely to see nacho break his duck!
    but i’m totally with you in really missing the benz goals. dazzling assists aside, i’d love to see him back on the score sheet again.

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