Gold heel

A wonderful occurrence of Benzema, with a goal from Casemiro, shoots a bad Madrid in Cornellà. Hazard's White Night. A lot of work and little danger at Espanyol.

It has been a while, since Cristiano got off the ship, that Karim Benzema has begun to understand the game better and to understand himself better. He was a genius in the bottle, a magician who was not for all parties or for all rivals. Now that player who seemed to be sliding everything skips Madrid and takes him out of forested matches like Cornellà, in which Madrid made a hole with a Barça that the return of football has caught him looking at the ceiling and the VAR. A platinum heel from the French made the difference on the scoreboard. He also existed in the game, but Madrid's pedestrianization of football will not always serve him to get out of the five remaining finals alive. And you'll need more from Hazard, which has gone from virtuous to virtual.

In Cornellà, despite the post-pandemic beating and the status of Espanyol bottom, Zidane did not touch his five untouchables either: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane and Benzema. The insistence not only reveals the strength of the player but is also a reliable indicator of where the bench is faltering: there is a galactic difference between the goalkeeper and the starting defenders and their spare parts, with the exception of Marcelo and Mendy, who maintain their career in relays, and there is no sustainable plan B for Benzema in these two years of cannibal version. The rest is mutable for the coach, including Vinicius, who for a moment knocked not only the door down but also Hazard from his post. Another thing is to get him out of eleven, which for so much does not give the lug of the Brazilian. Especially volatile is the square to the right of the attack. Five parties and five guests. Around there happy a few Zidane. This time it was Isco's turn, whose lineup was also a message: he raised the volume of the control and lowered the volume of vertigo.

Espanyol came to the duel with the coup de grace. Eibar's victory in Granada took him ten points away from permanence. So Rufete's business sounded like crime and punishment: he made the team and he will accompany him to Segunda. He recovered Bernardo and Cabrera, the starting centrals, and also De Tomás. The ex loads the devil, because they are soccer players who stayed in the quasi, who brushed the first team without stepping on it, who could be and were not. And they come to these parties with raw pride.

Also has Espanyol, founder of LaLiga and with 85 years in First Division, who entered the game on the accelerator and with a tactical touch-up that surprised Madrid on the way out: Wu Lei defeated on the right and Embarba from second point. That lasted what has lasted everything good in Espanyol this course, a blink. Madrid was calming the game and dominating the game from the handling and with Casemiro as center of gravity. He was in all the sauces in those first minutes: a shot from the parking lot that almost caught Diego López in Babia, a missile that almost blew Ramos's head when he went to the auction and a headless shot at the penalty spot. In those minutes, Madrid incurred one of its recurring vices when space does not appear inside: wholesale centers for lack of imagination. Nothing to rush Espanyol too much, who advanced his defensive line a lot and put his leg into each dispute. He wants the drama to catch him in his sweat-soaked shirt.

Madrid lacked Vinicius' supersonic verticality, that whirlpool that has given him so many solutions. Because Hazard is very short of a goal and Isco has never lived from that. So the first half was aired with a steady dominance of Madrid, who acted as if he felt immortal, as if the party were to fall under the law of gravity. It lacked space game, mobility, circulation, speed, everything that disarms defenses.

A genius in the desert

Especially flat is Valverde, whose engine has been turned off in confinement. And they barely pushed the sides. Marcelo's fuss has long ceased to be so and Hazard is still not the Hazard that Madrid bought. He is one of the choir and very unproductive in front of the door. And in the middle of the thicket came the magic detail of the game, the League and many leagues. One of those plays that Benzema, who took a penalty from Mateu shortly before, will leave in the club museum, like that slalom on the wire at the Calderón. He caught a long ball, waited for Casemiro and put a heel between Bernardo's legs so that the Brazilian would push the ball into the net. Only Guti came up with something so wonderfully flamboyant (even more astonishing because he was facing the goalkeeper) in Riazor. Everything around Benzema has long smelled of incense. He will be the man of this League if Madrid wins it in the end.

After the flash of French, the game returned to the plateau: the Madrid ball, the despair parrot and nobody's football. So Zidane pulled the roadrunners, Rodrygo and Vinicius, because matches like that always have a poisonous point. Two Brazilians, one per band, from a very different school. Vinicius' exaggerated daring and overly restrained Rodrygo. On the other side Rufete put Melendo, his touch of fantasy, and to a second point, Calleri, a percussion instrument to take advantage of the long game. The agitation was better for Espanyol, who still had a moderate arreón at the end, but his luck was cast. Salvation is on another planet. The same one that Madrid was in during a game that is summarized in a golden heel.

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