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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid Femenino 4 - 1 Espanyol

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Jessica Martínez notches a brace to lead Las Blancas to victory.

Real Madrid Women v Espanyol - Primera Iberdrola Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid Femenino recorded a comfortable 4-1 victory over Espanyol to make it two wins in the last two after dropping 5 points vs. Sevilla and Real Sociedad. This keeps Madrid in third going into the critical encounters vs. Champions League qualification rivals Atlético Madrid and Levante. Below are my immediate thoughts on the match. Player ratings and post-match pod to follow.

  • David Aznar is not one to shy away from throwing out strange lineups and today was no exception. He went with something that appeared normal enough, with attackers Sofia Jakobsson, Jessica Martínez, and Lorena Navarro and midfielders Teresa Abelleira, Thaisa, and Aurélie Kaci, but deployed them in a 4-4-2. Sofia played out on the right while Teresa operated in a sort of pseudo-left wing position. That went about as well as you might think. Real Madrid still had the individual quality to threaten but the efficiency of circulation and frequency of quality final balls were questionable. That is liable to happen when you completely lack width on one side (Marta Corredera operates in an inverted fashion thanks to her being a natural right back) and your one central midfielder capable of controlling the game is not playing in the double pivot.
  • In the 9th minute, Las Blancas took advantage of a rare moment when Jakobsson rotated out to the left. Jessica got to her cross first and was clearly brought down illegally, leading to the referee to point to the spot. The Spanish striker made no mistake and converted to make it 1-0.
  • Real Madrid created another dangerous occasion the one other time Sofia found herself on the left, but these types of balls were the exception rather than the rule.
  • There wasn’t much else to that first half aside from some forays into the box from Espanyol, which Misa and co. were able to handle with relative ease.
  • It pays to be efficient from set-pieces in situations where open play chance creation is barren — something Madrid haven’t been for some time now. That changed in the 48th minute, when Teresa Abelleira delivered a beauty that the 5’3” Jessica Martínez rose highest to dispatch.
  • The goal sparked a quick-fire burst of shots that put the game out of reach of the opposition. Jessica was involved with her head once again, nodding on an Ivana Andrés long ball to Lorena Navarro, who finished.
  • Whether coincidentally or not, two more great open play chances came after the first set of substitutions, which brought attacking balance back into the side by bringing off striker Lorena for winger Marta Cardona and Thaisa for Maite Oroz. The formation changed to a 4-3-3 and Teresa immediately got two chances at the backpost that she couldn’t put away.
  • Aznar used all of his available subs in the 61st and 66th minutes, bringing on Olga Carmona for Kenti Robles in the former time slot and Ariana Arias for Jessica and Chioma Ubogagu for Sofia in the latter. This put Marta Corredera on her natural side on the right, giving Real Madrid near-perfect equilibrium and optimization of the talent at hand.
  • So, of course, Real Madrid conceded. A giveaway allowed Brenda Pérez to go 1v1 and she made no mistake.
  • Real Madrid hit back quickly, though, as substitute Cardona curled a beauty into the far corner after Teresa recovered the ball inside the area.
  • Overall, it was a decisive and relatively easy victory after a slow start and a strange formation. Key players got rest and, thus, Madrid should be able to deploy their best personnel in their best positions in the upcoming league “finals.”