Real Madrid 1-0 Espanyol: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Sloppy Los Blancos Gain Scrappy Win

??Real Madrid continued their ?La Liga title pursuit with a jittery 1-0 win at home to mid-table Espanyol.

Dictating proceedings from the off, Real secured the victory thanks to Marco Asension’s strike but were not as convincing as in recent weeks.

Espanyol were punished for their inaccuracies in front of goal as Real Madrid broke the deadlock just before half time. A fluffed ?Luka Modric shot landed at the feet of ?Asensio and the young Spaniard smashed across Diego Lopez. After a quick VAR check for offside, the game’s only goal was awarded by referee Mateu Lahoz.

Madrid weren’t against testing their luck however, as Sergio Ramos was caught dawdling by Borja Iglesias. Getting away a smart chip shot, the forward had Courtois beaten all ends up. Unfortunately for him, his execution was ever so slightly misjudged, and the ball bounced off the crossbar to safety.

With Espanyol offering little as the game came to a climax, Real Madrid’s experience and fitness told. While it could be looked at as a fairly comfortable night for Los Blancos, fans would no doubt have had their hearts racing at certain moments throughout this encounter. 


REAL MADRID

Key Talking Point

As Sergio Ramos wasn’t bothered with defending today, space was there to be run at by the away side. Many an opportunity was had, but the Catalans couldn’t quite find a way to hit the net. 

Both Piatti and Vila should have done better with their chances early on, and Iglesias was inches away from tying the scores up at 1-1. It was an unnecessarily rickety ending for Los Blancos, with the onlooking Bernabeu crowd evidently nervous as the game dragged on. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI (4-3-3): Courtois (6); Odriozola (6), Ramos (5), Varane (5), Nacho (6); ?Casemiro (6), Modric (7), Ceballos (5); Asensio (8*), ?Benzema (5), Isco (7).

Substitutes: Mariano (5), Vazquez (6), Llorente (6)


STAR MAN – Marco Asensio

The starlet was most definitely Real Madrid’s most dangerous attacking man, and his goal was a just reward. Gifted with a fantastic ability to dribble the ball out of perilous situations, Asensio showed touches of ?Eden Hazard on Saturday night.

His strike made the difference between the two teams, and if not for him, the result would’ve been a very disheartening one for Los Blancos. Leaned on in his match, the 22-year-old showed impressive leadership in many a troublesome circumstance.


Worst Player – Karim Benzema

Replaced by Mariano on the hour mark, the streaky Benzema had a frustrating day at the office. On form up until Saturday, the Frenchman saw very little of the ball tonight.

When he did, his touch deceived him. The number nine is likely to play a bigger role this season than he did in the previous campaign, and will be looked upon to contribute more goals now? Cristiano Ronaldo has left the building. 


ESPANYOL

Player Ratings

Starting XI (4-5-1): D.Lopez (6); J.Lopez (6), Hermoso (7), Naldo (6), Didac (6); Perez (5), Roca (6), Granero (5), Darder (5), Piatti (5); Iglesias (7*).

Substitutes: Baptistao (6), Sanchez (7), Garcia (5).


STAR MAN – Sergio Iglesias

While failing to score with his only real chance, Iglesias was unafraid to continually track down both Ramos and Varane. His pressure made life difficult for the home side, and allowed Espanyol’s midfield to operate.

Joined up top by Leo Baptistao in the second half, Real Madrid’s midfield dropped deeper as Casemiro started to battle more frequently than had been necessary in the first half. Breaking the line a few times, the striker will be irked that he was not found more often.


Worst Player – Pablo Piatti

Missing a glorious chance to put Espanyol in the lead, the Argentine screwed his shot wide of the post without any pressure. Most would have expected the winger to break the net from his angle, so not even forcing Courtois into a save was unforgivable. 

Substituted after 45 minutes, his influence on the game dwindled after his missed chance. Possibly losing confidence after wasting such an opportunity, Rubi was wise to give him the hook. 


Looking Ahead

By no means vintage ?Real Madrid, Los Blancos didn’t quite create with their usual power. While it turned out to be a positive result in the end, Espanyol’s lack of accuracy in front of net made life far easier than it could’ve been at the Bernabeu.

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Lopetegui can still say his rotation policy worked however, as three points were gained without having to use ?Toni Kroos, ?Gareth Bale or ?Marcelo. With Sevilla in midweek and El Derbi Madrileno next Saturday, it’s fair to say this job was well executed. 

As for the away side, it’s doubtful they came to Spain’s capital expecting to take anything back to Catalonia. At home to plucky Eibar on Tuesday, focus will now quickly shift to garnering a solid result in that one. 

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Florentino Perez Confirms Cristiano Ronaldo Wanted to Leave Real Madrid for Personal Reasons

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has confirmed that Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to leave the Bernabeu in the summer due to personal reasons.

The forward enjoyed a record breaking career in the Spanish capital, but despite his superb performances on the pitch it seemed tension was constantly brewing under the surface. 

A reportedly shaky relationship with president Perez didn’t help matters and Ronaldo eventually ended his stay in Spain earlier this summer with a move to Serie A champions Juventus.

UEFA Champions League'Valencia FC v Juventus FC'

Perez has now revealed that Ronaldo wanted to leave the club for ‘personal reasons’. Speaking to delegates as reported by OK Diario and quoted by Football Italia, Perez opened up on the summer’s transfer business.

He said: “The most profitable sale this year was that of ?Cristiano. He wanted to leave for personal reasons, and when everyone is converging on one solution you come to an agreement.”

Perez quashed any rumours of ill will following the transfer however, and reiterated that Madrid will always be Ronaldo’s home.

UEFA Champions League'Real Madrid v Liverpool FC'

He added: “No one offered Real Madrid more than Juventus’ €100m. We can’t do anything but thank Ronaldo for all he did with this shirt. He’s the best ever after [Alfredo] Di Stefano and this will always be his home.”

Ronaldo has made a strong start to his career in Italy, scoring two goals and adding an assist in four games.

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Julen Lopetegui Opens Door for Vinicius Junior Debut as He Hints at Rotating Real Madrid Squad

?Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui has opened the door for Vinicius Junior to make his debut against Espanyol, as he considers rotating his squad to combat a congested run of fixtures. 

Vinicius, 18, joined Los Blancos over the summer and while he made four appearances during the club’s pre-season fixtures he has yet to make his senior debut having featured primarily for the club’s reserve side. 

Athletic de Bilbao v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander

However, ?Real are set to play five games in the space of just two weeks, and Lopetegui is conscious of utilising the depth of his squad to ensure maximum points are obtained throughout this period. 

“It’s normal that the fixture list is like this. When a team is playing in the Champions League it’s the way things are and we have to approach it game-by-game and knowing that the squad depth we have will be used,” Lopetegui said, via ?AS.


“Football is not about the starting XI, in every game there are 14 players and in a squad that wants to win everything everybody is important. No two players are the same and all of them want to put into practice what we are trying to achieve.”

When asked directly if that meant Vinicius would be involved in the squad for the ?La Liga clash on Saturday evening at the Bernabeu, he added: “We will always make decisions based on what we feel is best for the team. We’ll see tomorrow.”


Moreover, Álvaro Odriozola is set for his Real debut after his summer move from Real Sociedad after first choice right back Dani Carvajal picked up a knock in the Champions League win over Roma in midweek. 

Dani Ceballos is also in line for game time against Espanyol after featuring in the 1-1 draw against San Mamés and featuring off the bench against Roma.

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Atletico Madrid New Boy Rodri Hits Out at Sergio Ramos After Criticism of Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann’s Atletico Madrid teammates are stepping up to defend the Frenchman in the wake of Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos criticising him.

The World Cup winner made little secret of his desire to win the Ballon d’Or this year, also claiming he’s at the same level with previous winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. But it hasn’t gone down well with Ramos, who has since hit out at the Rojiblancos striker.

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“Griezmann saying he is on the same table than Cristiano and Messi? Ignorance is very bold,” the Spaniard said, via Goal. “I remember Raúl, Francesco Totti, Iker Casillas, Paolo Maldini…they won every title and they don’t have a Ballon d’Or.”

Griezmann’s new Atletico teammate Rodri has spoken out in his defence, insisting the striker does his talking on the pitch and is not affected by  Ramos’s criticism.

?“Griezmann can speak on the pitch, if others want to talk off it then they are free to do so,” the 22-year-old told reporters in quotes cited by Marca (H/T Football Italia). “He was not affected by the words of Ramos, he can speak if he wants to but that will not impact what happens on the pitch.”

Lucas Hernandez, Griezmann’s Atleti teammate and compatriot, had previously backed the striker over his bold claims regarding Ronaldo and Messi.

“I think that 90% of the world believes that Griezmann is at the same level as Messi and Ronaldo,” he said after Atletico’s 2-1 win over Monaco in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Club Atletico de Madrid v Rayo Vallecano de Madrid - La Liga

“Maybe Sergio Ramos doesn’t like it, that Antoine has spoken his mind. We know that he defends his interests. He’s in a rival team, the team of the capital. We know that there’s a great rivalry between the teams and it’s normal that he defends his interests and we defend ours.”

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Picking the Best Potential Real Madrid Lineup to Face Espanyol in La Liga on Saturday

Real Madrid host Espanyol at the Bernabeu on Saturday as  the home side look to get back to winning ways in La Liga following the disappointment of a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao last time out.

That draw halted a rampant start to the season from Los Blancos after Julen Lopetegui’s side won their first three games of the La Liga campaign, with back to back 4-1 victories coming before their more recent draw in Bilbao.

Espanyol arrive at the Bernabeu in impressive form, with an encouraging start to the season of their own helping the away side sit in the top four heading into this weekend’s match. 

Here’s how Madrid could look on Saturday.

1. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Thibaut Courtois (GK) – Having seen Keylor Navas start ahead of him in goal following a late arrival in Madrid during the summer, Courtois has now seized his spot as Real Madrid’s first choice goalie following his big summer move from Chelsea.

Dani Carvajal (RB) – Though Alvaro Odriozola arrived from Real Sociedad in the summer to provide greater competition at right back, Carvajal remains one of Madrid’s best defenders and one of Spanish football’s finest in his position.

Raphael Varane (CB) – After winning a third successive Champions League title with Madrid last season, Varane went on to star in France’s World Cup winning squad during the summer. Still only 25, Varane is as accomplished at defending as he is at boasting the biggest titles in football to his name.

Sergio Ramos (CB) – An ever-controversial figure for his ruthless approach to defending, Ramos’ captaining of his side to a succession of back to back Champions League titles has established the defender as a Madrid icon, and his winning mentality shows no signs of waning.

Marcelo (LB) – An era-defining full back, Marcelo remains as integral as ever to Madrid’s back line and has become a real leader of the side he has served with such distinction.

2. Midfielders

Casemiro (CDM) – Despite being left out of the starting lineup in favour of the more attack-minded Dani Ceballos last time out in La Liga, Casemiro remains one of Madrid’s most crucial players in terms of bringing natural balance to Los Blancos’ midfield and great organisation and protection ahead of a defence that can be suspect at times.

Luka Modric (CM) – The winner of the World Cup’s player of the tournament, Modric seems to get better with age and remains as capable as ever at running games from midfield with his drifting dynamism and effortless control.

Toni Kroos (CM) – The maestro of the side, Kroos’ sublime passing and deliveries make him an essential part of the Madrid set-up with his ability to keep his side ticking and pick out an incisive pass into the front men.

3. Forwards

Gareth Bale (RW) – Following years of debate over his long-term role at Real Madrid and his place in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo since arriving in Madrid in 2013, Bale finally has centre stage at the Bernabeu following Ronaldo’s departure in the summer and the Welshman has grabbed the opportunity with three goals in Madrid’s first four league games this season.

Karim Benzema (ST) – Like Bale, Benzema has responded to Ronaldo’s departure and the added goalscoring responsibility on his shoulders in fine form early in the season, with four goals in Madrid’s first four games.

Marco Asensio (LW) – Whilse Bale is Madrid’s answer to Ronaldo’s exit in terms of their next big superstar in the short-term, it is Asensio who is Los Blancos’ biggest hope for the future, with the 22-year-old Spaniard’s importance and influence ever-growing for both club and country.

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