I have to admit that I was not happy when Real Madrid announced their lineup. After a couple great games from Varane and a poor performance from Lass in the last couple of weeks, I did not expect Albiol and the French midfielder to start, but they both looked quite right.
Real Madrid started the game frankly well, moving the ball around and getting close to Espanyol's box, while the Pericos couldn't create a goal scoring opportunity to frighten Casillas. Cristiano had a nice long-distance shot that went off the post after Cristian stopped it.
Unfortunately, the players relaxed a little bit and Espanyol started to dominate the game. Casillas was very busy trying to stop the shots, but luckily enough for us both our defense and our goalkeeper played really well. Albiol and Ramos looked amazing in the centerback--the Andalusian showed that he is far better in this position than in the right back. For Espanyol, Thievy was specially dangerous, and Romaric delivered a lot of good shots.
While Kaká played average, Mesut Özil was terrible. The German didn't do a thing and is starting to look genuinely bad. I have to sat that I am a bit worried about him. We all know how good he is, but he needs to complete a good game to calm things down a bit. I don't know whether Mourinho will start Di Maria when he is able to play, but I would trust Özil to get back without benching him.
It was a difficult time for Madrid so it was good to see the referee end the first half.
Right winger Vladimir Weiss--on loan at Espanyol from Manchester City--was warming up at the end of the first half, but he didn't enter the field until the beginning of the second.
The Slovakian joined the game for Thievy in the 56th minute, and we had to wait ten more minutes to see our second goal. Álvaro Arbeloa--who completed a very serious game--gave the ball to Higuaín. Pipa then finished with a powerful first touch-strike.
Our team dominated again after Weiss missed a good chance to make it 1-2. Mourinho introduced Sami Khedira for Lass when the Frenchman saw a yellow card. Lass was not so bad this game: he provided intensity and recovered a lot of balls, but I still prefer Sami Khedira to play with Xabi Alonso.
Callejón was the next player to join the field with Özil going to the bench. It was good to see that Özil recovered from a nasty kick, because it looked like he could be injured.
Real Madrid regained the dominance of the game, and Cristiano received the ball in the 82nd minute from Xabi Alonso, and the Portuguese dribbled his man when we all thought he was going to finish the play. Then he saw Callejón who asked Espanyol's crowd for forgiveness--he played there--after he placed the ball inside the net.
Cristiano played very well, although he didn't score. He was very generous and didn't force the situation, which is always good when it comes to him. When he is at this level of passing, Madrid is a lot more dangerous than when he is just looking for the shot.
It was game over, but Higuaín had time to get his hat-trick when Espanyol lost the ball pretty badly. He finished it in a world class manner, and you could tell that the roster was happy to see Pipa score again. Now that Benzema will probably be sidelined for next week's Betis game as well, it is good that we have recovered his services. It's important to have this competition for the starter spot.
Over all, it was a complete game from our team, and it's key that we manage to win away again. Espanyol is a tough team to play against and they showed that today. We completed a good week with three wins in a row and it will be important to see if we can get Özil back. If he plays at his best again, this team will be a lot more dangerous.