Golden opportunity for Madrid in the ICU of Cornellà

Rufete debuts, fourth coach of the course at Espanyol after Abelardo's dismissal. Casemiro returns and is missing, by sanction, Modric. Raúl de Tomás aims to start.

Only Madrid, Barça and Athletic, who never went down, have spent more seasons in Primera than Espanyol, a fact that brings to light the drama that lies ahead in Cornellà just one year after the team qualified for the Europa League and that yesterday had the penultimate episode with the dismissal of Abelardo, to whom they have not given a single lap of credit. Rufete eats the brown of what remains, starting today with a Madrid that can put land in the middle with Barça. The tie culé in Balaídos allows him, at least, half a mistake from here to the end (follow the match live on .

Last summer Espanyol transferred two of its pillars, Borja Iglesias and Mario Hermoso, for more than fifty million euros. The three have done poorly, because the striker has only scored six goals (20 he scored at Espanyol de Rubi last year), Hermoso has finished as a central quarter at Atlético and Espanyol is in desperate situation with Madrid thrown and needy at the gates. Nor was the star signing, 'Monito' Vargas, who has played only 19 minutes in the last eight games. He was also one of the six footballers on the squad who contracted the coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic.

Winter shock therapy has had short-lived results. After the failures of David Gallego and Pablo Machín on the bench, he signed Abelardo for the second round. Two years earlier, the Asturian had rescued a bottom Alavés 6 points from salvation. History will not repeat itself. He took the last team five points from the permanence and now he is still in the queue but eight from the goal with only seven days ahead. The other remedy was also fleeting. Raúl de Tomás, the most expensive signing in the history of the club (20 million), scored in his first four games and gave Espanyol six points, but he has not done it again. Tendinitis has allowed him to play only 73 minutes in the post-pandemic. Today he is expected as a starter against the team that raised him and that never made room for him. The other two winter signings, Cabrera and Embarba, have improved the team but not enough.

Almost desperately, Abelardo changed six of the footballers who had lost to Levante against Betis. A revolution without results and a situation that made the victory of Eibar, the most attainable team, against Valencia critical. Now, Rufete receives with relief the return of the two central holders: Bernardo and Cabrera.

Espanyol has not been in second for 26 years, although on two occasions he was very threatened. The last one, in 2006, with that goal for the history of Corominas to Real. Now you can get to him with a Chinese owner, Chen Yansheng, the country's 254 fortune forged in toy, movie, TV and advertising businesses. It acquired 54% of the shares in 2016 and, after successive capital increases, it already owns 99.2% of the entity. Two years ago there were already rumors about the sale of the club and it is not ruled out that they will return if there is a setback.

Hazard and Vinicius

The Madrid, on the other hand, has made full after the return of football. Zidane has divided the minutes to keep the group active before the carousel of games and fatigue, but he has not dared with the key positions: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane and Benzema have always been holders. The French only saved 19 minutes in these four days. It seems that none will leave the team in Cornellà.

Marcelo and Mendy have shared the cake on the left wing and Modric, Kroos, Valverde and Casemiro have distributed three positions (four occasionally) in midfield. The Brazilian returns today, the Croatian leaves for sanction and the big question is whether Zidane will repeat that 4-2-3-1 in which Hazard and Vinicius fit or will stay out the Brazilian, the most decisive player of the team. On the right he has been playing, successively, with Rodrygo, Valverde, James and Bale. So the sequence leads this time to Asensio or Isco for Madrid to seek their fifth consecutive victory. That has been his ceiling in this League. History votes in his favor: he has only lost one game out of the last 26 he has played against Espanyol.

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