Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol: 4 Talking Points
Real Madrid dispatched Espanyol with relative ease in a 2-0 victory over the visitors in Saturday's early kickoff.
Coach Pablo Machin set up Espanyol with three at the back, with the intention to crowd their opponents in the middle and this worked for most of the first half, and largely frustrated the hosts, with most of the Real Madrid players struggling to find their rhythm and creativity.
The notable exception was Vinicius Jr was lively on the left flank of attack and got the better of Victor Gomez and David Lopez on several occasions although his teammates failed to make the most of the chances he created.
Just when it seemed Espanyol had done their job and the first half would end scoreless, Raphael Varane was on hand to put the hosts ahead in the 37th minute to ensure Los Blancos went into the break ahead to calm an already agitated Bernabeu.
It was largely cruise control from Real Madrid in the second half and a piece of brilliance in the 77th minute from the ever-impressive Feddie Valverde set Karim Benzema up to make sure of the result.
This was exactly what Zinedine Zidane would have demanded from his wards, with the one sore point coming in the 83rd minute when stand-in left-back Ferland Mendy was sent off for a second booking.
His suspension coupled with Marcelo's absence through injury means that the French manager would be without a recognized left-back for the trip to Mestalla to take on Valencia next week.
In this piece, we shall be highlighting four talking points from the LaLiga fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu.
4. Real Madrid showing champions quality
It is no hidden secret that Barcelona have been the standout team in LaLiga over the last decade and for all of their continental brilliance, Real Madrid have simply not been able to match Barcelona domestically.
The capital side have won just two LaLiga titles in the last decade which is rather poor for a club of their standing and it is for this reason that Zinedine Zidane stated that the club's aim this season is to win the league title.
So far, they look on course to achieve their quest and they entered matchday 16 level on points with Barcelona.
Heading into the game with Espanyol, Zidane was without the services of no less than seven key first team members but the players on show did enough to get all three points.
It was far from a stellar display from Los Blancos but like they have shown in recent weeks, they have the grit and desire to grind out results even when things are not going their way which is the hallmark of champions.
Though they were far from their best, the win was all that matters and with Real Madrid moving temporarily top of the table, the onus is now on Barcelona to match their result.