Espanyol 0-1 Real Madrid: 5 Hits and Flops as Los Blancos go top of the table | La Liga 2019-20
- Espanyol, sitting at rock bottom of the La Liga table, were in no shape for the task of locking Real Madrid down.
- Let's take a look at 5 hits and flops from the game.
After dramatically losing two points on Saturday to Celta Vigo, Barcelona were hoping for their fellow Catalan club Espanyol to slow Real Madrid down. However, Los Periquitos, sitting at the bottom of the La Liga table, were in no shape for such a heavy-duty task. Thanks to a solitary goal by Casemiro, Real Madrid now sit at the top of the La Liga table, 2 points ahead of Barca.
The game started off at the Cornella-El Prat with the home side immediately looking to put themselves on the stronger footing. However, this surprise dominance lasted only 10 minutes as Real Madrid found their rhythm and proceeded with an onslaught on the Espanyol 16-yard-box.
The relegation candidates held their ground strongly up until injury time in the first half when a worldie assist from Karim Benzema set Casemiro up for the opening goal of the night. The French international came upon a through-pass but looked like he was cornered in the area by Espanyol defenders. Without turning or looking, Benzema produced a stunning back-heel flick set just right for an onrushing Casemiro to slide the ball past an outstretched Diego Lopez and into the goal.
The second half saw Espanyol struggle to overcome a below-par Los Blancos defence as they created chance after chance but failed to convert any into the final product. While Madrid did dominate most of the game. Zinedine Zidane will not be too happy with the performance that saw his team score just a single goal against what is statistically the third worst defence in the league.
Without further ado, let's take a look at hits and flops from the game.
#5 Thibaut Courtois - Hit
The 28-year-old Belgian international kept yet another clean sheet during a game where his reflexes were tested a good number of times. Rising to the occassion, Courtois made five saves, including one from a 66th minute direct freekick that Raul de Tomas took quite well.
While Espanyol found it rather difficult to keep their shots down and on target, Courtois still receives the credit for ensuring that Madrid's overall lackadasical attitude to the game did not lead to a dramatic draw or comeback from the relegation candidates.
#4 David Lopez - Flop
While he constantly saw a lot of the ball throughout his time on the pitch, the 30-year-old midfielder barely did anything tangible with it, aside from one decent shot at goal that Courtois parried. David Lopez kept up his passing accuracy, but remained limited and unable to direct any vision, distance, and chance creation into his passing.
Defensively, he was mostly invisible as well. blocking a single shot but doing nothing else of note. Overall, he played a drab game - especially for a midfielder - and found it difficult to fight for the control of the reins in the middle of the part against a more dominant Madrid side.
#3 Karim Benzema- Hit
Once again, as he has done since La Liga's resumption, the 32-year-old star showcased his creativity and ability to seek out chances with ease. Karim Benzema might not have his name on the scoresheet today, but his brilliant assist will certainly be more talked about by Madridistas than the goal that it led to.
With the vision and awareness of an attacking midfielder, Benzema maintained a near-perfect passing level, sought out holes to run into, fell deep to receive the ball and disrupt the opponents, and made two key passes of which one led to the goal that put Madrid at the top of the table.
#2 Sergi Darder - Flop
In the same vein as David Lopez, Sergi Darder's performance today was abysmal and perhaps the worst on the entire pitch. Before his much needed substitution off the pitch in the 68th minute, the left winger managed a grand total of just 14 passes of which only 10 were on target. Nicholas Melamed, who came in for Darder, managed to make a key pass in the final minutes of the game.
Aside from a single shot which was wide off the mark, Darder did nothing to help Espanyol's rare foray into the oppositions half during the game. In defence, he was also found wanting as he made only two tackles but did nothing else of note.
#1 Casemiro - Hit
Getting the lone goal to push Real Madrid above Barcelona on the table might be the highlight of Casemiro's game, but he also put up a brilliant overall performance, especially in attack. Surprisingly, the 28-year-old racked up six shots during the game, only two less than the entire Madrid squad combined, and to his credit, it paid off.
Not looking solely towards goal, the Brazilian international also made two key passes and successfully dominated the proceedings from the middle of the park. He was also defensively adept as he managed three interceptions, one of which he turned into a counter-attack.Published 29 Jun 2020, 13:41 IST