Espanyol 2-1 Real Madrid (Benzema). Here is the immediate reaction to the defeat. Be sure to catch: press conference details, player ratings and the podcast.
With Barcelona and Atlético Madrid facing each other over the weekend, this game became a really good opportunity for Real Madrid to take advantage and extend the points gap at the top. Carlo Ancelotti opted for a midfield four, with Eduardo Camavinga, Toni Kroos, Fede Valverde and Luka Modrić all starting. David Alaba was chosen to fill the left-back spot that had been on the minds of many recently, with Nacho Fernández filling in at centre-back. The bench was the most senior it has been in a long time, with only Miguel Gutiérrez and Luis López called up from the reserves. Karim Benzema had the armband today. The opposition lined up with a mere two Castilla graduates listed - veteran Diego López in goal, and Raúl de Tomás in up-front, who is a real danger on his day.
Looking at the team sheet, it wasn’t actually clear who would be playing in which position at the start, but it quickly became clear that Alaba would be tasked with getting up and back on the left side - and Lucas Vázquez on the right. In truth this looked a little disconnected and it was the home side who took the lead through that man Raúl de Tomás as he finished off a low ball into the box. Other than the odd chance through Benzema, Los Blancos didn’t actually cause much trouble. Espanyol didn’t exactly run away with the game either, and other than looking dangerous after regaining possession on occasion, both teams contributed towards making this a really dull half. Madrid had it all to do in the second half after finishing the first 1-0 down.
Camavinga really struggled to figure out how to make himself useful in possession. Roamed too much and didn't offer consistent balance on the left. Doesn't help that the overall offensive structure isn't very defined.— tácticas del enemigo para desestabilizar (@OmVAsports) October 3, 2021
The break did little to effect the way the team were playing, with key players looking as nervy as ever when on the ball. Things turned really sour when Espanyol doubled their lead through Aleix Vidal. Espanyol took control of the game, and would have been further ahead if not for some vital defensive interventions from Lucas Vázquez. Madrid then clawed a goal back from a moment of pure quality from Benzema as he rounded half the defence and accurately placed the ball into the corner from the edge of the box. Benzema almost achieved the miraculous once again but what would have been the equaliser was ruled off for offside. The game concluded with Espanyol running away with the victory. Real Madrid currently stay at the top of the table but their position is now in jeopardy with Sevilla looming and still to play. What are your thoughts on the game?