We headed to Barcelona on Sunday to face Espanyol, whose stadium we haven’t lost at in something like 5 years.
We knew early that we wouldn’t have 2/3 of BBC. But we had Benzema and some more than capable substitutes.
Unfortunately, I thought we started poorly. If you took the time to listen to the Managing Madrid podcast (thank you for posting that, Lozil) you’ll hear me talk about how crap I thought it was.
Pre-Match Social Media:
So much bad Photoshop. It’s highly amusing.
Espanyol: Diego Lopez; Javi Lopez, David Lopez, Oscar Duarte, Victor Sanchez; Hernan Perez, Pape Diop, Marc Roca, Pablo Piatti; Leo Baptistao, Gerard Moreno
Real Madrid: Kiko Casilla; Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez; Lucas Vazquez, Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio
So without Crispy or GareBear, we got Asensio and Vazquez.
Was it just Lozil and I, or did Diego Lopez look exceptionally good? Espanyol is doing him well. Maybe Milan did him well? I don’t know. I’m not usually one to think Lopez is attractive but I did. And I do…
It took less than 3 minutes for Sergio to earn a yellow card. He lost the ball on a horrible first touch and went sliding into a tackle that took out Baptistao.
It was a rough match. Espanyol were playing very physically and our boys were being easily thrown off their game. First touches were poor and they all looked like they had heavy legs.
In the 10th minute, Espanyol had to make a change when Piatti came off injured and was replaced by Alvaro Vazquez.
Casemiro took a kick to the calf in the 14th minute that then resulted in him being subbed off in the 19th minute. We got Kroos (without a warmup) because we don’t have a DM to replace Casemiro.
Not that I don’t love Toni, obviously you all know that I do. I’m just a little salty that we didn’t get some depth in that position over the summer.
In the 21st minute, Perez was booked for a foul on Marcelo.
In the 25th minute, Sergio went down after taking a Perez strike to what looked like the chin. But I’m pretty sure it only hit him in the hand. The ref was rightfully concerned. But The Pony was fine.
In the 39th minute, Benzema headed in a beautiful cross from Marcelo but was ruled offside. GRRRRRRR!
In the 44th minute, Duarte received a yellow card for fouling Benzema.
In the second minute of added time, we got a stunning goal from James! He beat two defenders and struck it low and hard past Lopez and into the corner of the net.
Can we talk about this intimacy? This is… I want to be Marcelo.
And that was the end of the first half.
Espanyol 0 – 1 Real Madrid
We grew into the first half, so I was hoping we could continue the form into the beginning of the second. But again, the ref was incredibly inconsistent and the boys looked lethargic.
In the 54th minute, Diop was booked for a late tackle on Vazquez.
In the 59th minute, War Kitten had a fabulous shot saved by Lopez. It was definitely a reaction save, but it was a great save none-the-less. It would have been goal of the season so far if it had gone in.
In the 63rd minute, Zidane sent Isco in for goalscorer James.
In the 64th minute, Asensio was fouled by Javi Lopez, who picked up a yellow card.
In the 66th minute, Espanyol used their second substitution. Caicedo replaced Moreno.
In the 71st minute, we got a Benzema goal! Vazquez (new fave, still needs a nickname) sent in a great low cross and all War Kitten had to do was tap it in.
I make it sound easy, but really that wasn’t an easy finish. Calm and cool, but not easy.
Just two minutes after scoring, Zidane took out Benz and gave us some Baby Morata in the 73rd minute. I know he isn’t ready for a full 90, and that Morata is entirely capable, but to take out both goalscorers is never something I’ll understand tactically.
In the 84th minute Reyes replaced Roca and then Dani received a yellow card for a tackle that I’m not sure deserved it. Although, to be fair, I’m not sure if he got the yellow for the tackle or for descent after the fact.
After 2 minutes of added time, the match ended.
Espanyol 0 – 2 Real Madrid
Zidane: “When the rotations work out you can only be happy”
by Javier Garcia“One goes in, another one comes out and everyone does really well. The most important thing is how they all worked together” he added.
Zinedine Zidane spoke in the press room at the RCDE Stadium. The coach spoke highly of his squad after the league leader’s victory agaisnt Espanyol: “When the rotations work out you can only be happy. One goes in, another one comes out and everyone does really well. We’re always going to rotate players, we’ve got quality players and we’re going to carry on this way”.
“I’ve got 24 players and they’re all quality. We’re going to play 60 games and we have to change players in each game because we’re playing every three days. Everyone is doing really well and putting in a lot of effort”.
The goals from James and Benzema
“James had to play in the middle, behind Karim, as a number 10. He looked good in that position. I’m happy not just because of the goals from James and Karim, but due to the overall performance and what they did in general. They are talented players and they can make a difference, as they did tonight. The most important thing is how they all worked together”.
“Espanyol played a really good game today, especially in the first half. They’re a difficult opponent and very good. We’re always going to have difficult games away from home. We have to continue picking up points and doing our job. We deserved to win the game over 90 minutes”.
“We’re going to have a look. He got a big hit and we play in two days. We’ll evaluate it and see if he’s better tomorrow. We’re not going to take any risks”.
Sergio Ramos’s second yellow?
“I didn’t see it. I thought the ball had hit him in the face. I didn’t see the move. You’re down on the field and you don’t know what happened”.
“The important thing was to pick up the points and retain top spot”, declared Casilla.
James, Kiko Casilla and Dani Carvajal offered their assessment of Real Madrid’s victory at the RCDE Stadium against Espanyol, with the Colombian expressing his delight at the performance and his first-half strike: “I’m just another member of the squad. I want to help the team by scoring goals and providing assists. We’re a united group who are always hungry and want to win games and break records, as we have done today”.
“I’m happy because we’ve won and because we looked good. When they were playing well and we were playing deeper is right when the goal came. The result is a fair one. This team are hungry and want to win games and break records”.
Role within the team
“I’ve got everyone’s support and that of the coach too. Things aren’t the way that people suggest they are. I get on well with Zidane and with everyone else, you can see that. I want to be at Real Madrid. It’s always been a dream and I’m going to carry on fighting. I was always clear about it and never did I think about leaving. There were no concrete offers because I was always clear about the fact that I wanted to stay here. Zidane is my idol”.
“You’ve got to realise that there are a lot of us and the gaffer is the one who calls the shots. You always try to train and play well, but you’ve got to be relaxed and the most important thing is that this season I’m feeling good. I want to help us to all win. I accept having to sit on the bench because there are a lot of players and also I recognise that if you start you’ve got to perform”.
Casilla: “We’re top which is all we’re bothered about“
“I made some vital saves given the scoreline at the time and I’m happy with our work and with the win. We go on picking up points and we’re top, which is all we’re bothered about. The important thing was to pick up the points and the record is a side story. The team know what lies about and we’re just taking things one game at a time”.
“He’s a very important player for us, he’s shown what he can do and the important thing is that we’re a tight-knit group and that whoever plays does a good job”.
“In the first 15 minutes we didn’t perform to our usual standards. They played well and they’ve got players with pace who play high-tempo football and they didn’t allow us to be at our best. But we’ve got players with real quality who can create havoc in an instant, like James did with his great goal”.
Affection for Espanyol
“I have only words of thanks for this club. It’s thanks to them that I’m here and I’ll always respect them”.
Carvajal: “It’s a special record”
“Equalling the 16 wins is a special record, but it’s still nothing more than a statistic and we’re now already focusing on the Villarreal game. The record is a reflection of the hard work put in by the team and the gaffer. Zidane has got it spot on to ensure that we all feel important and we’re all pulling in the same direction. The fact that we’re a united group is the key to our success”.
“In the first half we struggled a bit, we were a bit sluggish and we gave the ball away cheaply on a number of occasions. The half-time interval allowed us to regroup and come out and really go for the game, and in the second period we controlled things better and we came away with the points”.
“Some of our important players were missing, but we’ve got a strong 24-man squad, all of whom would be starters in any other team in the world. It’s tough for the gaffer to pick his starting XI and it’s our job to make it difficult for him”.
“It’s only just started. We’re four matchdays in and this is a marathon. We’re just focused on picking up three points at a time, all the more so after we just missed out last season by a single point. We know that each and every point is important and we shalln’t be throwing any of them away”.
Post-Match Social Media:
We play Villarreal and my Ducky (Pato) on Wednesday.
¡Hala Madrid y Nada Mas!