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Espanyol stun Real Madrid as Ancelotti has problems to solve - Reaction and player ratings


The table-toppers, Real Madrid made the trip to the gorgeous city of Barcelona as they took on Espanyol who were recently promoted in Spain's top flight football.

Carlo Ancelotti came into this fixture with the initiative to win especially after their disappointing night at the Bernabeu in the Champions League as they lost 2-1 to Sheriff Tiraspol who were a side who made their debut in the Champions League.

Espanyol defended deep when Los Blancos were on the ball as Benzema nearly found an opening in the 13th minute of the game, but his effort was scuffed.

However, Espanyol began to take control in midfield as they found a really good opening on the left-hand side of Real Madrid's defence as David Alaba came out of his left-back position as Raul De Thomas came sprinting across the 6-yard box and fired the hosts in front as Thibaut Courtois had no chance to keep that out. Carlo Ancelotti was seen gruelling at the sight of that goal as the home fans at the RCD Espanyol stadium were thrilled to see their boys in blue, black and white take the lead against the giants of European football.

Real Madrid found it difficult to get their feet into the game and they found no space in between the lines as frustration grew for those supporting the visitors.

Eder Militao had a really good opportunity to level the score line from a set-piece taken by David Alaba, but he just couldn't stretch his neck muscles and give it a good go at goal as his effort had gone wide.

It was a really good first-half from Espanyol as they had much more clear opportunities in front of goal as they took the game to Los Blancos sensing a certain amount of vulnerability in Real Madrid's back line. Carlo Ancelotti's men did not come up with any real tests for Diego Lopez and his defensive crew to be worried about during the entire course of the first-half, except for a few tame efforts on goal from the hosts.

The second-half got underway and Real Madrid started it off with real intent as they looked like they focused on the wings to get things going in the attacking third of the game.

Real Madrid put the pressure on the hosts in the opening five minutes of the game, but they could not capitalise on the half-chances that they were able to create in front of goal.

In the 49th minute of the game, Real Madrid earned a corner. Eder Militao was able to leap high and meet the cross with real venom, but he was unable to guide it on target which saw a disgusted reaction from the Brazilian centre-back.

Luka Modric looked to provide the cut for Real Madrid on multiple occasions, but he was unable to get the ball through to Benzema when it mattered the most.

However, Espanyol did not shy away from Real Madrid's attack as they patiently looked to find a way past Real Madrid's fragile defensive line and Aleix Vidal strolled past the Los Blancos midfield, nutmegged Nacho and found himself through on goal as he lashed the ball beyond Courtois' reach and the hosts took a 2-0 lead which brought the RCD stadium back to life.

That goal must have put the game beyond reach for Real Madrid, but Los Blancos always look to find a way back into the game.

Real Madrid pushed forward with much greater intent and drive as David Alaba had an effort on goal way beyond the penalty box.

However, as much as Los Blancos pushed for goals, they had more bodies up front which left a lot of space in behind the delicate defensive line for Real Madrid and Espanyol could have killed the game when Sergi Darder was one on one with the keeper, Courtois, but he just fired it slightly wide as the game was still within reach for Ancelotti and his boys in white.

Yet, Real Madrid went for the win and Benzema came through with a few silky moves of his own as he pulled out the roulette in front of goal and scored, but he was ruled offside in the build up to that goal.

However, the hosts didn't want to put sn end to their fairytale as they saw ample of open spaces in behind Real Madrid's defence and they looked to capitalise on those as the attacking players of the men in blue and white brushed aside Militao, Vasquez and Nacho to get through on goal, but they couldn't pull the trigger before the situation got complicated with white shirts in behind the ball.

Real Madrid's talisman, Karim Benzema breathed a sense of hope and belief for the Los Blancos fans as he skipped past a few Espanyol defenders and found the back of the net with ease and composure.

That was a goal of a man in form and sheer confidence. He notched up his 9th goal of the season as he was intent to get his side off and running with 20-25 odd minutes left on the clock.

David Alaba had yet another opportunity on goal through a free-kick, but the ball sailed over the crossbar.

Once again Karim Benzema was in the thick of the action as Vinicius Junior found him as Benzema laid it well on the feet of Hazard who leathered the ball onto the roof of the right-hand corner, beyond Diego Lopez' reach, but once again, Benzema was ruled offside during the build up.

Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti in particular, will be utterly disappointed at that display as his side have not been able to pick themselves up from the weekday defeat in the Champions League against Sheriff Tiraspol.

Real Madrid are still on top of the La Liga standing with 17 points while Espanyol have climbed up to 13th place with 9 points to their points tally.

What went wrong for Real Madrid?

It has not been a good week for Carlo Ancelotti before heading into the international break as it began with a 0-0 draw at home against Villarreal, followed by a 2-1 loss at home against Sheriff Tiraspol and their performance against Espanyol saw them lose yet again with a 2-1 scoreline.

It just didn't go according to plan for Real Madrid's Italian manager as he always prepares well before a game, but his players have not risen up to the occasion.

You may have felt that Los Blancos could've found a way back into the game, well, they did, but they were caught being offside and they were also very lucky to escape the punishment of the chances that Espanyol had in front of goal which the Catalan side did not capitalise on.

As for us, right from the first minute of the game, we could see that there was no synergy and connection between the players in white.

They were not able to get the ball out of their feet and caress through Espanyol's midfield which was a real cause of concern. Usually, you would see that Real Madrid would ease past the opponents midfield and cause havoc to their defensive lines, but this was not the case when they took the trip to Barcelona and faced Espanyol.

Actually, it wasn't that Real Madrid were poor. It's just that a lot of credit has to be given to Espanyol. They were solid, organised and smarter as compared to Real Madrid. To top that off, they managed to create multiple chances in the second half, but that was entirely Real Madrid's fault as they allowed them to take advantage.

However, the hosts did not capitalise on their opportunities when Real Madrid were open at the back, they cashed in when Real Madrid had bodies in behind the ball.

Both their goals were well worked and well played in the build up and they had an extra spring in their step to punish Real Madrid.

Perhaps, Real Madrid lacked desire and commitment on the field as they may have taken the game lightly.

Jeez….Ancelotti could be struggling for sleep in the next 2 weeks!

What could Ancelotti do?

Before we begin, we're not experts at what Ancelotti does. We only share our views.

On a kind note, we honestly feel that Ancelotti probably needs to re-organise/organise his team, especially in defence.

We still believe (and you may agree/disagree with us) that he has not yet found his proper back four. Militao is for certain to be amongst that back line, but the remaining three have not performed well recently.

Nacho has been switched from Centre-back to left-back to right-back throughout the course of the season. (His entire Real Madrid career actually.) That is probably not helping his cause as he may need to get used to playing at one given position only.

David Alaba is also versatile as he can take up positions as a left-back and as a centre-back as well. A lot was expected out of the Austrian captain, but he too hasn't delivered yet.

With Dani Carvajal out injured, Lucas Vasquez may find it difficult to once again cover up for him as a right-back as he likes going forward and linking up with Benzema.

Modric and Camavinga may still need some time to get going considering that the Croatian superstar is 36 years old and the French starlet has just begun life at the Bernabeu. Toni Kroos may also need time to get up to pace after his recent injury.

Against Espanyol, Casemiro was a big miss in that pivot position as his presence was enough to handle Real Madrid's back four and stabilise their midfield as he mops up a lot in that pivot position that would enable Real Madrid to remain on the front foot.

Real Madrid: Player ratings

  • Courtois: 7.5/10 - He just couldn't do much with both goals. He was left with no chance for the opening goal, you could argue if he had a small window to stop the second.

    Nevertheless, he made two saves in the game and completed all 20 passes.

  • Vazquez: 4.5/10 - He was poor on the day. He certainly does not look comfortable at right back.

    Struggled to keep in touch with Espanyol's wing-men.

  • Militao: 4/10 - The Brazilian has still not been able to get upto the pace of this season. Clearly struggling at times in defence. Should've done much better for both goals.

    He had an opportunity to level tbe scoreline in the 50th minute of the game, but he failed to capitalise on the headed opportunity.

  • Nacho: 5/10 - The main highlight of his day on the field was when he was nutmegged by Aleix Vidal.

    However, he had done well with his passing as he looked to help the team get forward. He did not receive support as a cover in case he made a mistake.

  • Alaba: 5.5/10 - Started at left-back and was given the license to move up front and play in midfield to help the team be swift. However, he struggled when the team was on the verge of transition.

  • Camavinga: 6/10 - He played for 45 minutes in the game. He did well and kept things moving square. Unfortunately, he got a heavy blow to his foot and had to be subbed off at half-time.

  • Modric: 5.5/10 - Did not defend well when Espanyol scored their second goal.

    The Croatian is struggling to find his mojo back and he is yet to get up to speed this season.

  • Kroos: 5/10 - He played in Casemiro's position as a pivot. It clearly did not suit him and he struggled to keep things going in midfield as he just made a return from a long-term injury.

    He tried his best to keep things in shape in Real Madrid's midfield.

  • Fede Valverde: 6.5/10 - He was the only bright spark in Real Madrid's midfield as he has the ability to keep running until his legs run out of gas.

    His tireless efforts gave Real Madrid some swift movement in midfield especially when he drifted into a central position rather than the wings.

  • Vinicius Junior: 7/10 - It was not a good day for the Brazilian as he looked like he could not find a way through Espanyol's defence.

    He probably needs a break, but has to be given credit for trying.

  • Karim Benzema: 8.5/10 - The French striker tried to make amends for Real Madrid's defensive errors.

    His movement on and off the ball, sparked some hope that Los Blancos could get back into the game.

    Scored a brilliant goal, he could have won it for Real Madrid with a goal and an assist ruled out due to offside.

    Hoping he keeps up his impressive goal scoring form.

Finally, we've got to admire the honesty of Real Madrid's servant, Nacho where he took responsibility when he interviewed after the game, quoting:

"It was a difficult day, just when we were at our best, a mistake by me made it even more difficult for us."

"There were problems in defence, we could've conceded more today."

Last but not the least, Real Madrid never back down. They may have a much weaker side with many colossal stars leaving the squad or many of them are past their prime, but you just know that Real Madrid will be back and they'll be back with a bang!

Hala Madrid!