0-1 Defeat against the leaders
Espanyol face up to Real Madrid in Rufete’s managerial debut
Espanyol couldn’t change their recent string of results and conceded a third consecutive defeat in Rufete’s first match in charge of the blue and whites. The Espanyol team showed promise in a difficult context given the points difference between the two teams. The locals had options, but the game was decided with some genius play from Benzema, finished off by Casemiro.
Rufete made various changes to his starting eleven. A completely new defence: he got back Cabrera and Bernardo who had been sanctioned, and Víctor Gómez and Dídac joined them at the back. In midfield he opted for David López y Marc Roca who were joined by Wu Lei and Darder on the wings. Up front were Embarba and RDT. The team started really well and Darder had a great opportunity to put the blue and whites ahead after Wu Lei broke through on the wing. The local team kept the pressure on throughout the first part of the game and left the visiting defence exposed on more than one occasion, though yet again, the attackers were lacking firepower and ambition in the final metres.
However, Real Madrid were working well and started to have more possession. Diego López made a magnificent save to knock Casemiro’s long shot out for a corner. The game was balancing out and although Zidane’s team looked like they were getting the advantage, Rufute’s team managed to stop the white’s attacks without too many problems. In fact, the blue and whites managed to connect between the lines but kept finding the goal defended by Courtois. Espanyol didn’t suffer much and were dreaming of a goal before the break, but in the final minutes, everything got more difficult. After being so safe, they faltered in a few attacks before Casemiro finally scored.
Espanyol came out enthusiastically after the break and Wu Lei had a good opportunity after a cross from Víctor Gómez. However, in a repeat of the first half, Real Madrid managed to move forwards and get possession of the ball. The blue and whites had to concentrate their efforts on defending, just to stay in the game, and Rufete freshened up his eleven with various substitutions. With a long-range free-kick, RDT threatened Courtois. David López tested the Belgian goalkeeper’s reflexes with another long-range shot. Trailing by just one goal meant that Espanyol could have scored up until the final whistle, but in reality, they never had any genuine opportunities.