Espanyol lost a game, but won against Atlético de Madrid a safe path on which to travel without danger in this season of the return to First. The first half against the rojiblancos, which ended with the score in favor and a notable feeling of power and even superiority in front of the LaLiga champion, shows the way forward for a Vicente Moreno who, often branded as a conservative, was brave the day he was presented with one of the toughest tests of the year.

Espanyol Shield / Flag

LaLiga Santander

* Data updated as of September 13, 2021

With the aggravation of casualties of Sergi Gómez due to sanction, De David López and Javi Puado due to injury, the entry of a limping Fernando Calero –With a visible bandage on the right thigh–, of a Adrià Pedrosa who had just been intervened of two fingers of the hand and of players who debuted in ownership This course – Calero himself, Manu Morlanes, Aleix Vidal and the hitherto unpublished Óscar Melendo – turned out to be, while the bodies held out and Atleti moved their impressive bench, determinants for Espanyol to overcome on occasions, possession, duels or control to a rival who is pure dynamite. Only Jan Oblak, especially in two situations against Adrián Embarba –who played a changed band–, avoided a win at half-time.

In that first half, Espanyol shot seven times, when the average of the previous days was 4.3. He received five auctions of Luis Suárez, Antoine Griezmann and company, for 6.3 of the games against Osasuna, Villarreal and Mallorca. It gave 204 good passes, 57 more than in his best performance, with an average of 86.81 percent correct, also light years from the previous day and with a fearsome rival ahead. And reached the 62.24 percent of possession, which was by no means sterile.

The first parts of Espanyol

Osasuna Villarreal Majorca Athletic
Shooting 3 6 4 7
Total passes 186 152 198 235
Good passes 136 120 147 204
% good passes 73.12 78.95 74.24 86.81
Shots received 7 4 8 5
% possession 63.76 52.7 71.74 62.24

The key, undoubtedly, was in the system change –More a 4-3-3 than a 4-2-3-1 like the one they started just a year ago– and, above all, the players who occupied those spaces. A Manu Morlanes who could act as a 'stopper' but that enjoys greater creativity than the classic pivot to start the game cleanly, a Darder inspired, who gave moments of his best magic, and a Melendo more liberated, to connect the spinal cord with the attack, to ambush and even to swap with Aleix and Embarba, two extremes that acted rather as interiors sheltered from Raúl de Tomás.

The five novelties that Vicente Moreno dared to introduce in the lineup they greased so well in the match approach that Diego Simeone was forced to make three swings at halftime. And there, the idea began to languish, while Calero relapsed from his discomfort, Darder or Melendo accused the effort and it returned to a 4-4-2, so valid for promotion, but against Atlético he did not give a real sense of danger. And what happened happened. But the only ten of Espanyol-Atlético were not the controversial added minutes, but the first part of the parakeets, which points the way forward. And there are still pieces missing, like those that caused loss. And how Yangel Herrera. Next station: Benito Villamarín.