Real Madrid continued their fine trend of mounting comebacks after going behind as they picked up points number eight, nine, and 10 having been in a losing position this season, second only to Girona, as they beat Espanyol 3-1 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Saturday.
Joselu, a product of La Fábrica, scored his eighth goal against Real Madrid after only eight minutes, but Vinícius Júnior equalised 14 minutes later and Éder Militão gave the home team the lead before half-time, with Marco Asensio making it three in injury time of the second half.
Here are three stats which help to understand the game.
400: Real Madrid appearances for Toni Kroos, the sixth foreign player to reach that landmark
In another fine performance, Toni Kroos not only stood out as one of Real Madrid’s best players, but also as a landmark occasion. The German made his 400th appearance for the club in all competitions, making him only the sixth foreign player to do so.
Ahead of him are only Karim Benzema (632 and counting), Marcelo (546), Roberto Carlos (527), Luka Modrić (471 and counting) and Cristiano Ronaldo (438). Should he extend his stay beyond the end of this season, despite current uncertainty over his future, he could well climb above Cristiano.
Against Espanyol, he produced a trademark Toni Kroos display. His 82 completed passes was more than any other player, with a 93% completion rate, while only Vinícius Júnior created more than the three chances he created.
The German midfielder still has a crucial role to play in Carlo Ancelotti’s team, and his importance continues to stand out when put into games like this where the battle must be unlocked in the midfield.
3: Vinícius Júnior has had a yellow card in 3 consecutive games, and in 5 of his last 6
It’s no secret that Vinícius Júnior has been at the heart of any controversial storm in recent weeks. Whenever he takes to the pitch, there seems to be some kind of incident involving the Brazilian, and the ongoing debate is whether he is the culprit or the victim. The issue for Real Madrid is that it is now becoming detrimental to his play and his team’s play, regardless of who is to blame.
Against Espanyol, he was shown another yellow card, this time for a soft foul but his reaction to referee Jorge Figueroa Vázquez is unlikely to have helped him to avoid showing the card. Toni Kroos eventually emerged to put his hand around him and pull him away.
Vini’s reactions to referees is making him an easy target, and while he hasn’t been shown a red card, it does feel like a matter of time. He is already on eight yellow cards in LaLiga this season, with three in his last three matches and five in his last six when looking across all competitions.
Taking away from his football and undeniable talent, we are seeing too many of Vinícius’ key involvements being him arguing with referees or opponents. The treatment towards him is rough, being fouled three times by Espanyol players, but he must learn to handle it.
1.12-1.17: Espanyol had more xG than Real Madrid
Despite a convincing scoreline, expected goals suggests that this should have been a much tighter affair as Espanyol actually ran out the winners on xG with 1.17 compared to Real Madrid’s 1.12.
That is a positive in many senses for Real Madrid, given that they have outscored their xG after two games without a goal, and looked clinical and deadly in front of goal even without Karim Benzema. That is something that has been missing.
However, in total, Real Madrid’s xG per shot was at an incredibly low 0.05. That’s compared to a season average of 0.14. There were 22 shots taken across the 90 minutes by players in white, with seven on target, but they were primarily low-quality shots with half of them coming from outside the 18-yard box.
Leandro Cabrera’s late header was blocked and Martin Braithwaite had a shot fired high in the final moments, but both could have made this a very different result for Real Madrid had Espanyol looked a little bit more precise in front of goal.