It was a case of mission accomplished for Real Madrid against Espanyol, although there were some doubts beyond the three points.
The 1-0 win was not the best performance of the season, particularly in comparison with the performance against Roma on Wednesday when the team were at their best.
Julen Lopetegui revealed on Friday that the time had come for rotation, but that it had to be balanced with the risk of making changes.
He showed that, much like his predecessor Zinedine Zidane, he is not afraid to freshen up his team, with five changes to the team who faced Roma.
In goal, Thibaut Courtois replaced Keylor Navas, whilst Alvaro Odriozola made his debut in place of Dani Carvajal at right-back.
Nacho was given 90 minutes at left-back in Marcelo‘s position whilst Dani Ceballos took up the Toni Kroos role with the German left out entirely.
Wednesday’s star performer Marco Asensio also started.
The former Espanyol loanee scored a goal which was awarded by VAR after being wrongly ruled out for offside by Mateu Lahoz.
It was mission accomplished because Real Madrid got the three points, though it was not easy as Espanyol surrounded Courtois’ box late on.
It was a clearly weakened line-up for the final stages which included three players making their LaLiga Santander debuts for the club.
Odriozola, Mariano Diaz and Marcos Llorente were yet to feature this season in the competition but were given chances, ending the game with those three among seven Spaniards on the field in white at the final whistle.
After taking up six of the spots in Luis Enrique‘s Spain team to beat Croatia, it is yet another sign of the health of the young Real Madrid side.
Asensio gives Lopetegui more freedom to freshen his team up ahead of the Madrid Derby at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu next Saturday, as Los Blancoslook for revenge for European Super Cup defeat.
Before then though, he takes his team to face Sevilla.