A narrow win against Espanyol
Asensio’s VAR-awarded goal in the 41st minute was enough to see Madrid past Espanyol, who have not won at the Bernabeu since 1996. It was Asensio’s sixth goal in seven games as he continues to show impressive form this season.
Los Blancos looked sharp on the ball and dominated possession but allowed Espanyol to break on the counter attack on several occasions. And the Barcelona club were unlucky not to score, particularly from two opportunities that resulted from two major defensive blunders by Varane and Ramos.
Nevertheless, Madrid hung on and walked away with three points to keep the pressure on Barcelona, who play Girona at home tonight. “They played well, they’re very well organised… We knew it would be difficult; it was a very tough game. We were the better side in the first half and these were three important points,” said Julen Lopetegui after the game.
Impressive debut for Odriozola
With Dani Carvajal injured, it was the moment for Alvaro Odriozola to make his LaLiga debut, after he himself had been side-lined for several weeks due to an injury sustained in the US in preseason. And the former Real Sociedad defender had a bright opening to his Madrid career.
With lightning-quick pace, he played the attacking wing-back role fantastically in Lopetegui’s 4-3-3 formation and found plenty of space down the right flank on several occasions to open things up for Madrid.
Marcos Llorente also made his first start of the season, and Lopetegui expressed his satisfaction with both players after the game: “They took their chance well. When players that haven’t played come in, like those two, Nacho… it’s good news for us. The number of games we have means we have to make these decisions.”
Álvaro Odriozola is so quick that he can make a bad pass look like an okay one. Bright start from Real Madrid, Espanyol have it tough against their interplay and movement.— Simon Harrison (@simonhfootball) 22 September 2018
Another quiet night for Benzema
Benzema had a resurgent start to the season. But the Frenchman has been quieter of late, and was so again against Espanyol. Lopetegui decided to replace him with Mariano in the 59th minute, after the number 9 had failed to make much of an impact.
Benzema has now gone 211 minutes without a goal, a shot on target or an assist. Mariano did not have much prominence in the game either when he came on, but perhaps Lopetegui will be tempted start him ahead of Benzema on Wednesday against Sevilla.
Ramos shows off the bling
Speaking in the dressing room after the game, Sergio Ramos said he believes Uefa should give out Champions League winners’ rings, similar to what the NBA does. But instead of waiting around for Uefa, Ramos decided to have a ring made especially to commemorate the four Champions League titles he and has team-mates have won in the past five years.
“Uefa should do the same as the NBA does: give away a ring that says where you won the title,” said the Real captain, while showing off his enormous new Champions League ring. “So I went ahead of them and made one for myself… We’re going to patent this one so we all have one.”