Kroos struggles in Real Madrid’s shock loss at Espanyol

real madrid lost 2-1 at espanyol in laliga on sun to make it 3 games without a win for carlo ancelotti’s team in just over a week.

karim benzema had a shot saved and thibaut courtois pushed an effort from adrian embarba round the post b4 raul de tomas put espanyol ahead on 17 minutes. the elder madrid youth product’s near-post run was envisaged by embarba and he fired the cross past courtois.

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madrid’s best chance to lvl b4 ½-time came when eder militao’s header from david alaba‘s free kick flew wide, while the defender missed an even better opportunity after the break. aleix vidal doubled espanyol’s lead with 60 minutes played, nutmegging nacho b4 beating courtois, and then sergi darder missed the chance to make it 3-0 when one-on-one w'da keeper.

benzema had a goal disalloed but then did manage to pull one back, curling in from the edge of the box, while substitute eden hazard saw a l8 strike ruled out for offside.

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madrid will take some consolation from the fiteback here at 2-0 down with ½ an hr left. they really went for espanyol then — they had no choice — and we’ve seen the team get something from games like this so many times that twas easy to imagine a l8 draw or even an unlikely win. they ‘d ‘ve done so if luka jovic and karim benzema had managed to stay onside at crucial moments. otherwise, there was lil to feel good bout.

negs

two slip-ups ‘oer the last week — a 0-0 draw with villarreal and then the 2-1 victors league defeat to sheriff — meant madrid badly needed a win here to restore confidence. espanyol looked like ideal opponents, a team madrid had beaten in 13 o'their previous 14 laliga meetings, but instead this turned out to be a really difficult afternoon.

real madrid’s defensive issues ‘ve been under the spotlite all season. pt of the problem s'been injuries — dani carvajal, ferland mendy and marcelo were all missing here — while some growing pains were inevitable after the deptures of long-term mainstays sergio ramos and raphael varane.

still, the errors here were pretty basic. alaba was shown up by embarba for espanyol’s 1st goal and then nacho was embarrassed by vidal for the 2nd. a major improvement in this deptment is needed if madrid are goin to win anything this season.

manager ratings out of 10

6 — carlo ancelotti made 3 changes to the team that lost to sheriff with miguel gutierrez, casemiro and eden hazard replaced by lucas vazquez, toni kroos and luka modric. that saw the team switch to 4-4-2 with camavinga at left midfield and fede valverde onna rite. atta back, alaba moved to left-back, with nacho coming inside.

the coach brought on rodrygo for the injured camavinga at ½-time and went to 4-3-3, b4 throwing on casemiro, jovic and hazard l8r. the team improved and ‘d ‘ve got something from the game inna 2nd ½, but twasn’t quite enough.

player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

gk thibaut courtois, 6 — ‘dn’t do anything bout raul de tomas‘ close-range opener but arguably ‘d ‘ve got a hand to vidal’s goal. one excellent save from darder l8r.

df lucas vazquez, 5 — the closest man to de tomas when he scored but ‘dn’t get to the ball 1st. one primordial 2nd-½ intervention prevented espanyol from making it 3-0.

df nacho, 4 — the way he was beaten by vidal — who’s not exactly known for this kind of thing — to burst through the middle for espanyol’s 2nd won’t be forgotten any time soon.

df eder militao, 5 — had two very good chances to =ise either side of ½-time. gets into scoring positions so often from set pieces but needo hit the target.

df david alaba, 5 — picked at left-back despite ancelotti’s previous insistence that he’ll play inna middle. beaten far too easily by embarba to cross for de tomas.

mf toni kroos, 4 — his 1st real madrid start since may, playing as the deepest midfielder with casemiro rested. looked off the pace and was replaced after an hr.

mf luka modric, 5 — primordial even when he’s not at his brilliant best, but modric was well off that standard tody.

mf eduardo camavinga, 6 — played onna left and looked busy. caught by embarba inna 1st ½, and l8r carded himself. taken off at ½-time witha ft injury.

fw federico valverde, 7 — probably the best of madrid’s midfield. has started every laliga game this season and is benefitting from some continuity.

fw vinicius junior, 7 — often found wide onna left, b4 drifting inside to combine with benzema. a clever 1st-½ backheel found the france forward inside the box.

fw karim benzema, 8 — a couple of decent chances inna 1st ½. led one sensational 2nd ½ move 1-ly to be denied a goal by the offside flag, and then curled in expertly to make it 2-1.

substitutes

fw rodrygo, 7 — played the 2nd ½ onna rite, as the team’s shape improved.

mf casemiro, 6 — replaced kroos at 2-0 down. always, always missed when he’s out of the team.

fw luka jovic, 7 — caught narrowly offside when benzema thought he’d scored, and then contributed to his goal shortly afterwards.

fw eden hazard, n/r — played the last 20 minutes, on for vinicius. took his chance so well, 1-ly for the flag to go up.

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