Espanyol vs Real Madrid: Real Madrid beat Espanyol and is already the solo leader of the championship, two points above Barcelona. A victory that boosts the white team to the top and sinks a little more to Espanyol that right now is 10 points from permanence and that sounds like there are too many points to overcome. LaLiga Footballers have generated so much controversy for years, and less have managed to convince even their last detractor. Karim Benzema was never a classic striker but he will leave his name among the top five gunners in the history of the club with the most titles. But Karim’s kingdom is not statistics.
Espanyol vs Real Madrid: Benzema Magic
It is the game, the inspiration, the quality unleashed. The Frenchman spilled all his talent in Cornella with a wonderful heel that was final in a capital victory, perhaps the key for LaLiga.With Eibar’s victory in Granada, Espanyol started with little to lose. The permanence is a miracle, and between that factor and the highs in the eleven, Bernardo and Raul, he had no complexes. With Wu Lei in the right lane to exploit Marcelo’s absences, after three minutes he stood in the area, but the pass behind and finished off Darder. Carvajal pulled out with the body, miraculous.
Madrid may not have expected such a serious warning so soon. Zidane set up a team to send with his surprising touch, with Isco, and without Vinicius. The command of the duel was from the leader, but without overwhelming the area. A volley from Casemiro that Ramos tried to deflect risking his own head; he was stunned, that was the best option at the start because Espanyol denied the spaces between the lines. It is impossible to know whether Abelardo’s dismissal and Rufete’s express landing influenced that remarkable half hour. Such a decision, on the eve of a game that looks like a key to the future of a club, does not deserve any award.
Some technician complains about the hydration pause because it undermines the games. Tactically exploited. Well, Madrid changed its configuration after that break and streamlined the circulation to Benzema. With Hazard disconnected and Isco loose between the lines. Karim appeared outside the area to test Diego Lopez on a screw. The goalkeeper blew in a punt, rolled Benzema, and stopped two point-blank shots from Casemiro and Hazard, all on the same play.
Ni Mateu nor the VAR saw a penalty. Go on. And on the brink of rest, a diagonal of Marcelo unloaded by Ramos enabled Benzema on the side of the area with time and space to paint a unique painting. He crossed his right leg, threw the heel under Bernardo’s legs; and placed Casemiro facing the goal to finish off the goal. A genius inherited directly from Guti, unpredictable by generous. It may be that Riazor’s was more surprising, hand in hand with the rival goalkeeper; but Karim’s, heeled and diagonally, enters his gallery of masterpieces.
The 0-1 calmed the football of the leader, far superior to a depressed rival. Although Wu Lei had a clear shot that blocked Courtois without problems; Espanyol hardly worried except on the few occasions that De Tomas appeared in the area. Benzema was able to hole the second with a cross from Isco from the right that Diego Lopez took with reflexes but; Madrid did not overwhelm and left the result open.
Espanyol vs Real Madrid: Second half
Zidane withdrew Hazard and Isco to activate the attack with their Brazilians, Vinicius and Rodrygo. I miss the Belgian, who has been fading over the days. Rufete changed pieces to refresh the eleven. Since the break, with the entry of Pedrosa by Didac, to the relays on the three-quarter line outside Wu Lei, Embarba and Darder, inside Calleri, Nico and Melendo. Except for RDT, all new.
The final stretch had its dose of anguish for the minimum result. Madrid was armored with Casemiro, Valverde, and Kroos, but an isolated action, a rebound, or a slip could change the panorama. Zidane decided that he didn’t need any more changes; although he had three options, despite the fact that after Isco’s departure he had lost control of the ball. A risk, without a doubt. Burdened by the heat and by the rush, the coach took off his jacket, like all Real Madrid.
Victories can never be taken for granted, even if they are against the bottom. They are essential, especially if the rival for the title doubts and gets into trouble in the dressing room. Madrid sweated until the last second the victory against Espanyol, with Calleri’s final scare, to put two points on Barca and put all the pressure on the Camp Nou, with the visit of Atletico. The leader is solid, he grants little. The rest is due to Benzema’s talent.