Despite a convincing victory against Mallorca, there were questions raised against the lackadaisical showdown from Gareth Bale. Not only was he ordinary against an ailing Mallorca who were entirely based on spasmodic bursts of brilliance from their young wards, but he apparently seemed to be clueless about what was unfolding on the pitch.
Going by the status quo of the league table, Real and Barcelona are locked in a neck-to-neck situation where dropping a single point can cost them the crown. Until the last game, both Real and Barca were stationed at the same points from the same number of matches, however, Real aced the table, thanks to a head-to-head superiority.
Things, however, can change drastically with Real all set to relish clear advantage over the Catalans as Barcelona drew with Celta Vigo last night. Late dramatics from Iago Aspas stole the thunder from Quique Setien’s wards.
If Real Madrid could wring themselves a victory against Espanyol, they will have a two-point gap at the top of the table, which isn’t a very comprehensive one, however, given the current circumstances, Zidane would love to have some breathing space.
Now this can be an extremely dicey affair for Zizou and his boys as despite being placed at the bottom of the table, Espanyol has always ignited up surprisingly against the big guns of the league in this season. Though they have failed to wring out precious victories, but they have put in staunch shifts to pull off draws against Getafe, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid at home and Sevilla in the latter’s backyard.
With Real visiting Espanyol, Abelardo will eye this affair to conjure trickery of the highest order to put an end to the indomitable song of Real since the resumption of the game after the lockdown. It will definitely not be a cakewalk for the visitors and with a scrappy display that plagued Real’s ambitions in the first half against Mallorca, they will have their own reasons to frown profusely.
What can be the best possible solution for Real’s woes in the midfield?
The weakest link in Real’s star-studded midfield for the previous game was Gareth Bale. Despite being a formidable force in his heydays, flexing his breakneck speed to score goals which would have been a mere imagination for others, he is currently in the twilight of his career. He still summons such insane speed on occasions, however, they are extremely rare incidents from the Welshman.
Real is a boiling cauldron of consistency and the team thrives more on teamwork rather than individual brilliance. With Gareth Bale switched off, it becomes difficult for Zizou to join the dots. What can probably be done to make amends to this hapless situation of the Merengues midfield is to introduce Marco Asensio instead of the Welsh speedster.
With some incredible adaptability in his repertoire, Asensio can suit himself to the wings and also in the central attacking role. Hazard pulled off wonders in the attacking third of Mallorca and that implies that Marco can be used in a winger position. Though his speed is no match to that of Gareth Bale, however, this Spanish midfielder has an eye for whipping in clinically precise balls into the mixer from the sides.
Another lethal ability possessed by this youngster is to take meaty long rangers which can change the complexion of the game at any point in time.
There will be a question mark about the fact that how well will he gel with Vinicius who is playing as the striker on the left and relies a lot on balls supplied from the midfield as he is more of a target man in Zidane’s plans. This answer can solely come only when Asensio is deployed on the wings.
There may be a possibility that Hazard will be restored to his normal winger position while Asensio is given a free hand in the central attacking midfield. Though the Belgium wizard has failed to live up to his billing on the wings, he will try and grab every single opportunity to ensure that his stint with Real does not go down on a bad note. Asensio can be a lethal prospect in a central role as he is very well capable of releasing balls which would be like golden opportunities for Benzema and Vinicus to slot home.
Time will only tell that who does Zizou pin his hopes on for this is an extremely crucial encounter for the Los Merengues.