diego martinez was clairvoyant when asked about the match plan and the system change that Espanyol used to defeat to the Betis (4-4-2), as he had also modified his scheme the previous week to win against Getafe (5-4-1). “We are chameleons… It is the players who carry out the plan”he assured. To be chameleonadapting to rivals to neutralize their defects was one of the premises of Vicente Moreno’s Espanyol from the previous yearContrary to what is assumed, this course went from more to less. There are many similarities between the 1-0 against Betis and the script for the encounters played in a RCDE Stadium that was a fort during the first round (20 points) of the 2021-22 campaign.
-The game system. Last year, with Moreno on the bench, the parakeet team alternate systems like the 4-2-3-1, the 4-4-2 or the 4-3-3, weighed down by the pressure in the opposite field due to having Raúl de Tomás, little given to this type of activations after loss or suffocating efforts in the rival field. Against Betis, as the Galician coach himself explained, he placed two wingers to bother the Betic centrals and leave one-on-one situations. Although the blue and whites did steal some balls when the rival ball came out, the two lines of four came together in their own half and left no gapsprevented Manuel Pellegrini’s men from having superiorities inside and out with the sacrifice of Aleix Vidal and Javi Puado.
-Less possession, more spaces. The Betis finished the game with 70% possession for only 30% from the blue and white team, who gave up the ball (or could not win the pulse) but won the spaces. The 1-0 also marked a turning point in the match. In the first half, Diego Martínez’s team reached 50% possession after 15 minutes and went into the break with 34%, but their rate of taking the initiative dropped after Martin Braithwaite’s goal. The chances are a reflection that Espanyol works better with spaces than in positional attacks. In the first half he managed four shots, three of them were from set pieces and the fourth, the goal from the Danish striker. In the second half, with less ball, there were also four shots on goal plus the disallowed goal by Aleix Vidal and the clear chance from Javi handful which is not counted as a shot since he failed to hit the ball.
-The art of defensive ‘war’. Espanyol’s withdrawal improved in Getafe and continued against Betis. Not only because the blue and whites managed to keep a clean sheet for the third time this season (up to ten were the previous campaign), but because Betis barely made shots with danger on goal. A header by Borja Iglesias in the first half, a foul by Sergio Canales and deflected shots, most of them from set pieces, were counted. With the entry by Cesar MontesEspanyol has won more forcefulness on the area defense and in the air game. brian olivan he won the individual duel against Luiz Henrique while Vinicius de Souza has become a decisive footballer in the game without the ball.
-To hit first is to hit twice. The coach in the press room congratulated himself and pointed out this aspect as, perhaps, the difference between this match and others played at the RCDE Stadium. “get ahead gave us confidenceIt was the first time,” he said. Last year, the parakeet team managed to win eight of the 12 games in which they started winning at home, while this season they only have two victories, but the good news is that they were the only two games in which they scored first. In fact, including games away from home, as long as Diego Martínez’s team has scored first he has finished winning the match except 1-1 against Atlético in the Metropolitan. It happened against Athletic, Valladolid, Getafe and now Betis.
Although the squad has undergone many changes and Diego Martínez landed at Espanyol with a different idea of the game than Vicente Moreno’s, the profile of the players is similar (56% of the starting team was already there the previous year), Therefore, the team has found itself more comfortable in these two games that it has won from that defensive security that has translated, due to game circumstances, into a better performance. A ‘Vicentino’ Espanyol with Diego’s touches.