Real Madrid continued their 100 percent start to the new season as they defeated Espanyol 3-1 at the RCDE Stadium on Sunday night.
Vinicius Junior put the defending champions of Spain in front just 12 minutes into the game, but Espanyol fought their way back into the contest and equalised close to half-time through Joselu.
For most of the second half, Real Madrid pushed hard in search of a goal, but were unable to find a way through until the 88th minute when star man Karim Benzema stepped up and made it 2-1 to all but secure the victory for his side.
Deep into stoppage time, the veteran French international scored another goal to make it 3-1 and ensure that Los Blancos walked away with all three points.
The result sees Real Madrid climb back to the top of the La Liga standings, ahead of Real Betis, who are the only other team to win three in three, on goal difference.
Speaking after the match in his press conference, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti lamented over the lack of intensity from his team after the first goal was scored, which allowed Espanyol a way back.
“We had a very good start. We controlled the game well and struck early. We then dropped our intensity a bit, we weren’t effective up front and it became more difficult after they equalised because there were a lot of stoppages,” he said.
But the substitutions which saw Ancelotti introduce the likes of Eduardo Camavinga and Rodrygo Goes helped Real Madrid turn things around in the latter stages.
“The game became end to end and that suited us. Camavinga was already instrumental last season. When the game is stretched his energy gives us a boost, just like that of Rodrygo, Valverde or Vinicius,” he said.
“The reason we won the game was because we had more energy than our opponents on the pitch.”
Explaining his decision to not bring on Eden Hazard, Ancelotti said: “Hazard might have been an option, but I didn’t want to unbalance the team. We already had Rodrygo, Vinicius and Karim playing. Bringing on another forward could have been risky.
“He has my full backing and it’s not a problem if he doesn’t play, doesn’t get on the pitch or doesn’t warm up. He will get playing time. I’m not Hazard’s, Benzema’s, Mendy’s, Camavinga’s or Valverde’s coach. I’m Real Madrid’s coach.”
Further explaining his selection and substitution calls, he said: “Each game is a different story. If I’d started with Rodrygo and Camavinga we might not have had so much control in the first 25 minutes.
“If Kroos and Modric had come on instead, we might not have had that energy that we had. But choosing is like betting. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Today, the Real Madrid coach made a good bet.”
“If I wanted to protect a player I’d leave them at home. I made four changes and it could’ve been five. But I could’ve used any player and I decided to send on Dani for the last change because he’s got more experience.”
On his decision to start Antonio Rudiger at centre-back and move David Alaba to the left-back position, Ancelotti said: “I wanted to have more aerial presence and Rudiger perhaps has more than Alaba. But Alaba is incredible going forward.”
Real Madrid maintain full confidence in Turkish starlet despite injury woes
Arda Guler’s Real Madrid stint has not gotten off to the start he would have hoped to have given the expectation that preceded the transfer.
Having joined in the summer after Real Madrid outbid their competition to win him over from Fenerbahce for a 20-million-euro fee, buzz was high as the winger was expected to slot into the team quite seamlessly, albeit on a rotational basis.
Unfortunately for the 18-year-old, he has been constantly marred by injuries since completing the move.
Reports have stated that after Guler picked up his third injury since his move, Real Madrid have been concerned and want to take things slow with the player to ensure he is fit as soon as possible after an injury to his quadriceps this time.
The Turk is yet to make his competitive debut for the club, and Real Madrid even sacked their medical chief in November, in light of their injury crises since the beginning of the season.
No loan deal for Guler
However, according to Fabrizio Romano in a recent YouTube video, he states that Madrid maintain full trust and patience in the youngster.
Despite his bad luck with injuries, the latest of which he is scheduled to return from after Christmas, the Galacticos have no intention of loaning out Guler to Turkish clubs despite lots of speculation of them doing so of late.
Romano states that Madrid remain firm on not shaking things up too much with the squad, and they want to keep their roster stable, including Arda Guler.
They want to extend their full support and protection to the player as he aims to return to full fitness and finally make his bow for Madrid either by the end of this month or in 2024.