Real Madrid may have produced arguably their least convincing performance of the campaign, but it was still enough for them to defeat Espanyol.
Marco Asensio’s solitary goal four minutes before halftime on Saturday gave Madrid the win and left coach Julen Lopetegui happy after he made several changes to his starting 11, reports Xinhua news agency.
“It was a game we had marked in red because of the quality of the opposition, who had the whole week to prepare for the game. They played well, they’re very well organized… We knew it would be difficult,” said Lopetegui in the Spanish press on Sunday morning.
He highlighted that Espanyol had all week to prepare for the match, while his side had faced Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“Tiredness is a factor after two high-intensity games in three days and against an opponent who knows how to play football. Luckily we were able to get the three points, which is the most important thing… Matches after Champions League games are always dangerous, we knew that,” explained the Madrid coach.
Lopetegui defended goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who had some nervous moments with the ball at his feet, saying he would talk about “a problem that doesn’t exist,” and he was happy with the first appearances of the season for Marcos Llorente and Alvaro Odriozola.
They took their chance well. When players who haven’t played come in it’s good news for us. The number of games we have means we have to make these decisions,” he concluded.
Real Madrid’s next game is a difficult away trip to face Sevilla on Wednesday.