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Three talking points from Real Madrid 3-1 Espanyol

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid made easy work of Diego Martinez’s Espanyol earlier today and put an end to their three-game winless streak by securing a 3-1 victory at the Bernabeu. The team’s return to form could not come at a better time given that they next face Liverpool and Barcelona.

Vinicius Jr, Eder Militao and Marco Asensio were all on the scoresheet to help their team register the dominant scoreline. Yet, the game was not without its own twists and turns.

The hosts had 70% of the possession on the day, taking 22 shots and creating two big chances. The scoreline is kind on Espanyol, for Real Madrid would have buried at least two more chances on another day.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid 3-1 Espanyol.

1. The initial hiccup

Real Madrid coasted through most of the game at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. Once the men in white found the equaliser, there was no stopping their pressure and persistent attacks.

However, the game did not start as smoothly as Carlo Ancelotti would have liked. The first ten minutes of the game saw Espanyol mount severe pressure on the Merengues, winning even half-challenges and passing through the hosts’ midfield.

As early as the second minute of the game, Diego Martinez’s men created their first chance of the game when Marin Braithwaite got behind the Madrid defence. His missed opportunity was followed by a period of intense pressure by Espanyol that resulted in the opening goal.

Aurelien Tchouameni lost a half-challenge on the left side of the field and the ball was squared to Ruben Sanchez. The Spaniard made easy work of a wrong-footed Eduardo Camavinga and delivered an inch-perfect cross to Joselu who delivered a glorious finish.

Espanyol’s dream start continued for another five minutes, at the end of which Vinicius Costa had a great chance to double the visitors’ lead. That, however, signalled the end of their attacking play in the game.

The 70 minutes that followed were all Real Madrid. The Merengues asserted their dominance through well-constructed passing sequences and attacks down the flank to which Diego Martinez had no answers.

As the game progressed, Espanyol’s diminishing confidence grew more evident. The Catalans slowly began resorting to hapless clearances over the confident build-up play that they exhibited early on in the game. Mentally broken, they no longer posed a threat to the defending champions.

2. Vicious Vinicius

Weaving his magic. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

The storyline of Vinicius Jr stepping up with a moment of magic to turn the tide is not unheard of. In fact, it has been a recurring theme in so many of Real Madrid’s games this season.

Saturday’s clash was no different. After Espanyol had silenced the Santiago Bernabeu, there was a blanket of worry cast over the stadium over Real Madrid’s recent lack of goals. After all, the team had scored just one goal in their last three games and was missing its best striker.

When the side needed someone to step up and claim responsibility, it was again Vinicius who came to the rescue. The Brazilian international was one of the sole creators in the final third on the day as he constantly dribbled his way past the Catalan defence.

The equaliser Vinicius scored was a thing of beauty. Receiving the ball on the far left, he dribbled centrally past three defenders, cut back and unleashed a vicious shot that soared into the far corner. It was a work of precision art at its best.

In 89 minutes on the field, the Brazilian took six shots, created four chances, completed 92% of his attempted passes and completed three dribbles. His riveting display on the left wing kept the Espanyol defenders on their toes and bound in their own box and overshadowed Rodrygo and Valverde’s relatively quiet performances.

3. Closer than it appears

Only six points separate Barcelona and Real Madrid after Los Blancos’ win on matchday 25. The Blaugrana may have a game in hand, but one must remember that Xavi’s men play Athletic Club away at San Mames on Sunday night.

The league leaders have been far from their free-flowing best in recent games and head to the Basque nation without Ousmane Dembele and Pedri. In the event of an Athletic Club win, Real Madrid will have the chance to reduce the deficit to three points next weekend in El Clasico.

Even if Barcelona restore their nine-point lead on Sunday, a Real Madrid triumph at Spotify Camp Nou next weekend would reduce the deficit to six. That figure would not appear unscaleable by any means.

All hope is not lost for Real Madrid in La Liga. Yet, it is clear that a lot will ride on the end result of El Clasico next weekend.

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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona

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Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Real Madrid return to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night for the first time since booking a place in the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League.

Having dethroned the reigning UCL champions midweek, they will look to do the same to the reigning Spanish champions at the weekend as they take on Barcelona in La Liga.

The Catalans have been on a mini resurgence in recent weeks, but their momentum and morale was crushed midweek with a defeat to PSG in the second leg of the UCL quarterfinal.

Real Madrid have got the better of the Blaugranas twice this season already, and appear to have the advantage over them for the third time ahead of Sunday’s clash. A win on the night would have massive implications.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Barcelona.

Riding the high

Manchester City may have embarrassed Real Madrid by a 4-0 scoreline at the Etihad one year ago. Earlier this week, however, Los Blancos exacted their revenge at the same venue.

Pep Guardiola’s side may have been the more dominant team on the night with the better chances. On a scale of who deserved to go through for attacking football, the Premier League giants indeed would have made the cut.

Yet, Real Madrid held on through the storm and pulled through an extra 30 minutes to take the game to a penalty shootout. The masters of nerves kept their cool through the tense shootout and pulled through in clutch Real Madrid style.

Ancelotti must play his cards right (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

They now enter El Clasico riding on the wave of momentum that has been going their way all season, and they must look to capitalise on the psychological edge they boast on the psychological front.

After all, Barcelona are coming off a tough defeat which sealed their elimination from Europe and are far from their best state from a psychological standpoint. A mentally weakened opposition is, after all, half conquered.

The final rung

El Clasico has lost its charm in recent years and is overtaken by several other fascinating fixtures across the globe as football’s elite clash.

While a part of the decline is due to the departure of big names from both teams, Barcelona’s overall fall in quality has an equal role to play in the same.

While the game may not have the same global appeal it did a few years ago, however, El Clasico seldom arrives without any reward on the line. This time, it brings with it a real chance for Carlo Ancelotti’s side to celebrate a massive success.

With seven games to go in La Liga, Los Blancos sit comfortably on 78 points while second-placed Barcelona are on 70 points. A win tomorrow will widen the gap to 11 points, and virtually seal La Liga in Real Madrid’s name.

After all, it is almost unthinkable that the men in white will lose four of their next six games after the Clasico. Tomorrow’s game, thus, brings with it the ultimate prize.

Carlo Ancelotti’s focus against Barcelona, thus, will be to ensure that his side do not slacken out and that they bring home all three points the easy way. After all, a defeat at the Bernabeu will cut their lead to five points and set up for a nervy finish.

The right rotations

Having just played a tiring 120-minute shift against Manchester City on Wednesday night, it is but natural for Los Blancos to feel fatigued.

Checking on players’ fitness and opting for the right rotations, albeit without impacting the quality on the field, thus will be Ancelotti’s greatest challenge ahead of the showdown against Barcelona.

For starters, Toni Kroos is expected to be replaced by Luka Modric in midfield on the night after playing a long shift midweek. The Croatian showed against Manchester City that he still has magic in his boots, and a start against Barcelona would not be undeserved.

The second likely change in midfield will be the return of Aurelien Tchouameni, who was suspended midweek. The Frenchman is expected to take the place of his teammate Eduardo Camavinga at the base of midfield.

Moving to the final third, the player in question for the game is Vinicius Jr, especially considering that he was facing muscular discomfort after the game in England.

He has been included in the squad to face Barcelona, but it is critical that Ancelotti evaluates his fitness before handing him the start.

If indeed the Brazilian is not fit to play from the first minute, Rodrygo will take his place on the left wing with Joselu covering the second spot in attack.

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