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Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol: 3 talking points

Monday 2nd October 2017
After a faltering start to their La Liga campaign, Real Madrid needed to finally put a marker down in this season's title race. Earlier on in the day, Barcelona had put three past Las Palmas, meaning Los Blancos had to respond in similar fashion.  

Zinedine Zidane's side eventually ran out 2-0 winners in a lacklustre game that lacked ideas and creativity. Isco opened the scoring in the 29th minute after being put through by Cristiano Ronaldo. The Spaniard doubled his & Madrid's tally in the 71st minute by curling one in from the edge of the box.

The win leaves Real Madrid in the unfamiliar place of fifth, seven points behind their Clásico rivals, Barcelona. For Espanyol, the defeat leaves them in 14th place, only two points above the relegation zone.

Here are three talking points from Real Madrid's 2-0 win over Espanyol.

Zinedine Zidane gives youth a chance

In the midst of a crisis, Zidane looked towards Madrid's youth to see him through a rocky patch. Eighteen-year-old Achraf Hakimi was given his Real Madrid debut in front of a sold out Bernabéu stadium. The Moroccan right-back was brought in due to an emergency, however, he conducted himself with utter maturity. In a side clearly lacking width, Hakimi ensured he was an ever-present passing option on the right flank.

During his successful tenure at the Bernabéu, Zidane has proved that he's willing to give fringe & youth players a chance before spending money in the transfer window. He's given Borja Mayoral, Lucas Vasquez, Dani Ceballos and now, of course, Hakimi a chance. It's something other managers at big clubs often refuse to consider.

Frustrating night for Cristiano Ronaldo

Even the world's best player can have a bad day at the office. Although Cristiano Ronaldo huffed and puffed, the Espanyol defence refused to open for him. The Portuguese captain tried his best to be in a scoring position but the through balls just wouldn't come to him and when he did get a sniff at goal, his finishing was off.

What makes things worse is that 1) last year's Golden Boot winner Luis Suarez is currently having a dry spell in front of goal and 2) Lionel Messi has already scored 11 goals this season, only two less than the entire Madrid team. Ronaldo must be pulling his hair out knowing the Ballon d'Or awards will be given out soon and he's not in a rich goalscoring vein.

Against Espanyol, Ronaldo attempted seven shots on goal, with only one hitting the target. The 32-year old was also dispossessed twice, misplacing five passes in the process.

Marcelo & Dani Carvajal are huge misses

Marcelo and Dani Carvajal are the two best full-backs on the planet. Attacking-wise they're unrivalled, and in defence, they're almost impossible to get past. For Zidane, the duo play a huge role in the way he wants his team to attack. Which is high and wide with numerous crosses being pelted into the opposition's box.

The two are perfect for that philosophy, because not only are they good crossers of the ball, they also have mystifyingly good dribbling skills, meaning they can create space for themselves in the wide positions. They are perfect full-backs - the best in the world at what they do.

So imagine going from those two world-class players to an 18-year old making his debut and Nacho Fernandez, a centre-back playing on his weaker side. It was always going to be an uncomfortable watch. Real Madrid look notably worse without Marcelo and Carvajal in the side.
Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with ample amounts of passion for both Cristiano Ronaldo & Real Madrid. I'm one of those bandwagonist hipster fans that will claim to know everything about football, but only watches the El Clasico outside of the Premier League. Forgive me, I'm trying. Oh yeah, #WengerOut. 

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