A magical pass from Benzema to Casemiro gives Real Madrid three crucial points in a difficult away match.
What was supposed to be an easy game on paper turned out to be quite more difficult for Los Blancos than expected. With a new coach, their fourth of the season, Espanyol started the game quite well. They started by threatening Courtois’ goal after a Sergio Ramos error in midfield that gave Wu Lei the opportunity to cross inside the box, but Carvajal was in the right place and managed to block the shot. Raul de Tomas and Wu Lei constantly looked for counter-attacking opportunities in the first ten minutes, and it was the Chinese player who caused a lot of problems for Ramos and Marcelo on the left wing.
After a chaotic first ten minutes, Real Madrid managed to get the game under control. Casemiro was the first to test Diego Lopez, with a shot from 50 meters that almost caught the goalkeeper to far from his goal, but ultimate Diego Lopez saved the shot. Moments later, it was Casemiro again whose shot from inside the box hit Ramos in the head just in front of Espanyol’s goal.
Real Madrid were in control of the game, but were struggling to break through Espanyol’s 8 man defensive block. Isco as usual was good in build up but struggled to penetrate the tight defense of Espanyol. Marcelo and Hazard were disappointing and didn’t offer any help to Benzema, who seemed to be the only player creative enough to try and start anything in attack.
On the defensive end, Casemiro and Varane took care of everything, not allowing Wu Lei and RdT to start anything in midfield. It was quite a defensive display from both players. It took a free kick from Marc Roca at the 20th minute to test Courtois, who was attentive enough to save the tricky shot. Real Madrid responded with a Sergio Ramos header but Diego Lopez was in the right place and saved the shot.
After a few moments of back and forth, Benzema cuts inside from the left wing and his curling shot looked like it’s gonna be a goal but Diego Lopez deflected the ball over the goal. The Espanyol goalkeeper was having a good game and it showed when he saved a couple of quick shots from Benzema and Hazard.
At the very end of the first half, Benzema pulled off a magical backheel pass between the legs of the Espanyol defender and Casemiro smashed it to score his fourth goal of the season.
Just like in the first, Espanyol start the second half with a low shot from Wu Lei that was stopped by Courtois. Benzema was on the receiving end of a long Isco cross and he almost scored in the near post but Diego Lopez was in the right place to save the shot once again.
Real Madrid were in control but were struggling in attack. At the hour mark, Zidane made his first and only changes of the game. Hazard and Isco, both with poor performances, were subbed off for Vinicius and Rodrygo.
A 65th minute free kick from RdT was saved by Courtois, who was doing his best to keep another clean sheet. At this point, Real Madrid looked exhausted and were doing just enough to prevent Espanyol from doing anything in attack. Vinicius and Rodrygo provided some width and energy, but were no threat to Espanyol’s game.
The last ten minutes Real Madrid were content with sitting back and defending. Espanyol were not good enough until the last second of the game, when it took some defensive effort from Marcelo to deflect a shot outside. Lahoz signaled that the game was over and Real Madrid looked relieved.
It was a big team effort, lead by Casemiro, Varane and Benzema. Key players, like Ramos and Hazard, were unimpressive and Isco with his first start in a long time didn’t do much either. You can read our individual player ratings here.
Real Madrid’s next match is at home against Getafe on Thursday, before traveling to face Athletic Bilbao away on Sunday.