Following Barcelona’s slip-up against Celta Vigo, fans and pundits alike were well aware of the fact that Real Madrid had a huge opportunity in front of them tonight against Espanyol. When push came to shove it was a bit harder than expected, but in the end, Real did manage to come away with the win in this David vs Goliath clash to move two points ahead of Barca in the La Liga table.
While Real did appear to dominate for large portions of the game, Espanyol have the kind of stubborn outlook that is always going to be tough to break down. Still, Real gave it everything they had, pouring the pressure on the relegation strugglers from the moment the first whistle blew.
Casemiro went close with a long range effort that was well saved by Diego Lopez, whereas Espanyol weren’t afraid to come forward themselves. They went at Madrid with a string of nice efforts, only for a top performance from Thibaut Courtois to stand in their way.
Then, on the stroke of half time, Casemiro himself did manage to put Real 1-0 up after a really nice backheel pass from Karim Benzema – a man who many consider to be one of the most underrated footballers on the planet today. Wu Lei went close to making something happen for Espanyol, but they simply could not break down Madrid in a way that was going to mean something. Barca fans watched on in horror as Real continued to stretch their advantage in the title race, with the attention now turning to the midweek fixtures.
Barcelona will play host to Atletico Madrid as they try to stop their championship push from keeping falling off the tracks. Then, on Thursday, Real Madrid will go head to head with Getafe. The club now knows that they are just six wins away from glory, and six wins away from just their second La Liga crown since 2012.
On the very same night, Espanyol will be back in action as they travel to take on Real Sociedad. With their tenure in the top flight hanging by a threat, they’ll know just how important this game is going to be.
Espanyol: Lopez (7.5), Vila (6), Cabrera (6), Espinosa (6.5), Gomez (6.5), Darder (6), Roca (6.5), Lopez (6), Lei (6.5), Embarba (6.5), Tomas (6.5), Melamed (6), Lozano (6), Pedrosa (6.5), Melendo (6.5), Calleri (6.5)
Real Madrid: Courtois (8), Carvajal (6.5), Varane (7), Ramos (7), Marcelo (7.5), Valeverde (6.5), Casemiro (8.5), Kroos (7), Isco (6.5), Benzema (7.5), Hazard (7), Vinicius (6), Rodrygo (6.5)
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
Yellow Cards: Pedrosa, Vinicius
Red Cards: N/A