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|Match Result and Total Goals
|Real Madrid and Over 2.5
|Real Madrid and Under 2.5
|Espanyol and Over 2.5
|Espanyol and Under 2.5
Carlo Ancelotti’s side looked sharp in attack last weekend and they should continue their scoring streak against an Espanyol team that has struggled defensively so far.
Back Real Madrid to win and over 2.5 goals (+105)
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It feels a remarkable thing to say given their history, but not much noise comes out of Real Madrid these days. The imminent departure of Casemiro, an integral player over the last few years and one of the best in his position in world soccer, has not sparked panic at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
There has been no talk of immediately going out and splashing the cash on a replacement. Madrid will make do with what they have, with Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni (signed from Monaco at the start of the summer) ready to step up in place of the Brazil international.
This is one of the benefits of having Carlo Ancelotti as manager. The Italian’s record speaks for itself, especially in European competition: no one has won as many Champions Leagues as the Madrid boss, who has lifted the famous trophy four times with his current employers and AC Milan.
He is not as rigorous a tactician as Pep Guardiola or as intense an operator as Diego Simeone or Jurgen Klopp. But Ancelotti exudes calm and he has the personality to manage big egos inside the locker room. That makes him the perfect fit for a club like Madrid, as he has proved over two the course of his two spells at the helm.
Los Blancos have not skipped a beat at the start of this season, and their performance in a 4-1 thrashing of Celta Vigo last weekend showed that they are still the team to beat in the La Liga title race.
It is far too early in the season to pay much attention to the La Liga standings. With just two rounds of fixtures completed, there is little we can glean from the table right now. There is no consensus on when it does become a useful source of information, but in the opinion of this writer it is usually after six matchdays. Even then, it is not the most reliable indicator of what lies ahead, since six games is equivalent to just over 15 per cent of the campaign.
Espanyol may take little comfort from the table after six games. Having taken just one point from a possible six so far, they now face a tough run of fixtures that will pit them against Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Valencia. By the end of September, the club from Catalonia may well be in the bottom three. That should not cause panic at the RCDE Stadium if it does come to pass, but it would leave Diego Martinez’s men with work to do.
Espanyol drew 2-2 with Celta Vigo on the opening weekend, with Joselu leveling the scores in the eighth minute of second-half stoppage time to make it feel like a win for Martinez’s side. But Espanyol were then disappointing in a 2-0 home loss to Rayo Vallecano last time out, the type of result that will have damaged their confidence ahead of the visit of Real Madrid.
Inconsistency plagued Espanyol throughout last season. Remarkably, they only won back-to-back games once. Ending the campaign on a seven-game losing streak dulled expectations ahead of 2022/23, and Espanyol’s underwhelming start will not have raised them.
One of the things that will have pleased Ancelotti most from last weekend was that his team’s four goals were scored by four different players. Karim Benzema remains the star and chief goal-getter of this Madrid side, but the Blancos will need more players to chip in if they are to hold off the challenge of Barcelona this season. Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and Fede Valverde did exactly that last time out, while Eden Hazard had the chance to do so but missed his penalty.
Madrid went for a midfield three of Modric, Camavinga, and Tchouameni against Celta, but Toni Kroos could return this weekend after a bout of illness. Rodrygo could also return on the right in place of Valverde, but neither of those changes would disrupt what is a settled side.
Madrid turned on the style going forward last weekend and we should see a similarly accomplished attacking display against Espanyol, who have conceded twice in both of their matches to date and had the joint-fifth worst defensive record in La Liga last season. Back the away team to win a match featuring more than 2.5 goals on Sunday.
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|Espanyol vs Real Madrid
|RCDE Stadium, Barcelona, Spain
|Sunday, 28 August 2022, 16.00 PM EST
|How to watch
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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