The impossible. 95 minutes of fighting, going first at a walk, then at a trot and finally at a gallop, did not help Espanyol to come out with points from the Wanda Metropolitano. Making a team like Atlético sweat at their stadium, despite being close to 20 minutes with ten players, is to draw positive conclusions. It is hard to digest when hot, but it will look better when cold. Although one thing is clear: the parakeet nightmare with the VAR seems already common. If in Anoeta, the blue and white block was deprived of a point, in the Wanda it was groundhog day. The Referees Technical Committee will have a hard time sustaining why the maximum penalty was awarded at the hands of RdT. In short, Atlético smiled, Wanda rumbled and ran down the sideline with Simeone to celebrate Carrasco’s penalty, 2-1. Espanyol can hold their heads high: Simeone had to pray to heaven to win, again.
*Data updated as of April 17, 2022
Inexplicable. Impotence and anger for the most part, but a multitude of sensations ran through the minds of the Espanyol players when the 2-1 penalty was converted. Darder chatted with Oblak, Vicente Moreno and Sergi Gómez gesticulated and were left without knowing what the referee had pointed out after speaking with him and the group paraded one by one through a locker room tunnel on which the words courage and heart are silk-screened, just what Espanyol took on against Atlético. A decision left him without points, but it didn’t help that the monitor where the referee saw RdT’s alleged hands repeated was so close to the Atlético bench. The pressure was tremendous and Mario Hermoso was the best assistant. He did not fail to point out to the referee where he should look. Total impunity to end up calling a maximum penalty against a parakeet block that was composed and without a prize. Like the nearly 50 blue and white fans who were seen in the stands of the Metropolitan. Wonderful minority that wore the colors of Espanyol through the city center, on the metro line 7 on the way to the field and on Avenida Luis Aragonés.
System. Vicente Moreno opted for a line of five defenders, three centre-backs, and managed to handcuff Atlético in the first half. So much so that the only shot on goal was parakeet: a header from Cabrera. After the break, Simeone introduced Cunha, Carrasco and Griezmann and everything changed. The parakeet technician put Aleix Vidal in for Óscar Gil, faded and with yellow. It was 1-0 and the blue and white body language was not the best, but Darder and RdT were there to pull the wagon. The Batman and Robin who run this Espanyol. And yes, give them what they want (and more), but they can’t get away. The midfielder gave a recital at times of dizzying driving, stratospheric long passes and forced the foul (and the red to Kondogbia) that ended with the striker’s goal. A duo that was unable to subtract points from Atlético. The truth is that this Espanyol was already scoring the point of having been able to take points from the top six classified this League, but they must settle for having done so with five: Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Betis and Real Sociedad.
Present. Without points in the Wanda, Espanyol awaits the last days of the League of nothing. With ambitious goals in sight, the only thing left is pride and not giving up. It is comforting to see how players like Calero, who is reaching a more than remarkable level, are recovering for the cause, and Melendo was seen flashes in the Wanda. He should have more continuity, although he needs to make more of an effort to recover (he was not spared several challenging looks from Vicente Moreno). There was also a message from the parakeet coach who, after the defense of five went well, opted to, at the end of the game, bring on Wu Lei. With 1-1 and Atlético with ten players, he undid his ‘invention’, returned to the line of four defenders and formed with RdT and Wu Lei at the top. He wanted the match.
The detail. All of this might not have happened. RdT was about to leave the field of play after a bad pass to Pedrosa in the 68th minute. The striker looked dejected at the bench and Vicente Moreno quickly urged Dani Pastor to activate one of the players who were warming up on the wing. He rethought it, there was reconciliation, pause and it was decided not to rush events. The rest, known history.