Real Madrid – Espanyol: Madrid Manage To Get Narrow Win Despite Questionable Substitutions By Lopetegui (1-0)
Real Madrid dominated the first half thanks to Julen Lopetegui’s increasingly familiar possession-based strategy and assured performances from his midfielders. This changed in the second period, as Lopetegui made second half substitutions that lost them control of the game and allowed Espanyol chances to equalize the final 1-0 scoreline.
Espanyol manager Joan Francesc Ferrer Sicilia, better known as Rubi, was forced to bring in backup Naldo at right center back after losing key defender David López to a left quadricep injury. Rubi also chose to rest wingers Sergio García and Leo Baptistao, allowing him to give minutes to Pablo Piatti and Hernán Pérez. The rest, including the formation, was standard. A 4-3-3 formation held together by the familiar Esteban Granero-Marc Roca-Sergi Darder midfield.
Julen Lopetegui also made rotations of his own, following a decisive 3-0 victory against AS Roma in their midweek Champions League clash. He rested Toni Kroos for Dani Ceballos, Marcelo for Nacho, Dani Carvajal for Álvaro Odriozola, and Gareth Bale for Marco Asensio. These players and their teammates lined up in what looked like their usual 4-3-3, though Lopetegui mixed things up with his wingers and fullbacks.
Espanyol's high press when Real Madrid was building up
Espanyol’s high press causes Real Madrid some trouble
Espanyol, perhaps emboldened by Athletic Club’s intense pressing performance against Real Madrid last weekend, started the game with a high press that went all the way back to Thibaut Courtois.
As can be seen in the lineup graphic above, Iglesias would press the Belgian keeper while protecting the passing lane back to Casemiro. He was supported by Pérez and Piatti man-marking Sergio . . .