Real Madrid travelled to the Reale Arena to take on Real Sociedad in their first game of the 2020/21 LaLiga season, and the defending champions didn't get off to a great start as they were held to a 0-0 draw.
Manager Zinedine Zidane had to contend with a number of injured players - Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio, Eder Militao and Isco, among others - but he still managed to spring a surprise by handing Martin Odegaard a start against the club at which he was on loan last season.
Real Madrid controlled possession early on in the game, with Toni Kroos pulling the strings from a deeper midfield role in the absence of Casemiro. Los Blancos enjoyed almost 70% of the ball in the first half, but the game went into the half-time break goalless.
Sociedad became more influential after David Silva and Adnan Januzaj entered the fray, and fashioned a couple of half-chances early in the second half. Both teams upped the intensity with around half an hour to go, and although they threatened to break the deadlock, it wasn't to be.
Real Madrid were arguably the better side on the night, but they lacked the match sharpness and cutting edge required to slice through a resilient Sociedad outfit. Here are the Real Madrid's player ratings from their 0-0 draw against Real Sociedad.
Real Madrid Player Ratings vs Real Sociedad
Thibaut Courtois: 7.5/10
Courtois made a stunning one-on-one save towards the end of the first half, and didn't have much else to do. The 2019-20 Zamora Trophy winner wasn't great with his distribution and played a careless pass or two, but notched up another clean sheet in the Spanish top-flight.
Dani Carvajal: 7/10
Carvajal worked hard as always and gave Ander Barrenetxea a hard time on the right-hand side of the pitch, and even fizzed in a couple of tantalising balls into the box. The right-back did get a yellow card late in the second half, but his performance was an encouraging sign for Real Madrid.
Raphael Varane: 7.5/10
Varane was perhaps Real Madrid's best defender on the night as his pace and positioning didn't allow Sociedad to create too many chances. The French centre-back was excellent with the ball at his feet, and 95% of his passes on the night found their intended target. He also made a crucial block in the final minutes of the game.
Sergio Ramos: 6.5/10
Real Madrid's captain proved why he is one of the best ball-playing centre-backs in the world, with accurate long balls complementing his forays forward. However, off the ball, Ramos was a bit sloppy at times, although Sociedad weren't quite able to take advantage of his positional lapses. The Spaniard also had an excellent chance to open the scoring off a set piece, but his well-hit shot was blocked.
Ferland Mendy: 7/10
Mendy was far from assured in possession with his touch letting him down on a number of occasions, but he was solid in defence and a threat going forward. The Frenchman was perhaps a tad lucky to not be given a second yellow card, although he did arguably do enough to justify his selection ahead of Marcelo.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
Kroos was deployed in a deep-lying role in the absence of Casemiro, and the German sprayed passes all over the pitch while connecting with as many as 100 of them. He was vital to Real Madrid's hold over the midfield, drawing fouls and creating 3 chances. However, it must be said that he would've been better suited to his usual role further up-field.
Luka Modric: 5.5/10
Modric put in a shift during his time on the pitch, breaking up play and keeping things ticking with short passes. However, the Croatian is still far from the player he was when he won the Ballon d'Or, and might soon be sacrificed for younger legs in the Real Madrid midfield.
Martin Odegaard: 6.5/10
Odegaard got on the ball often in the first half, and although it did sometimes seem like he wasn't on the same wavelength as the rest of his Real Madrid teammates, he promised much during his time on the pitch. The Norwegian seems to be the right man to inject some much-needed creativity into the team's midfield this season, but a fairytale return wasn't on the cards.
Vinicius Junior: 5.5/10
Although Vinicius was one of the brightest spots in the Real Madrid attack, he completed only one dribble and lost 8 of his 11 duels. The young Brazilian certainly lends a lot of energy and work-rate to the side, but his end product and decision-making are far from impressive.
Rodrygo did go on some of his trademark explosive runs, and always looked to make something happen when on the ball. The young Brazilian won 9 duels and pulled off some penetrative dribbles, but didn't offer much by way of end product and was taken off around the 70th minute mark.
Karim Benzema: 5/10
Benzema got the best opportunity of the game when he was found in space in the box, but he fluffed his lines while trying to round the keeper. The Frenchman linked up fairly well with his fellow attackers and ran the channels tirelessly, but he was nowhere near the player who finished last year's LaLiga as the Pichichi runner-up.
Real Madrid Substitutes
Fede Valverde: 5/10
Valverde came on in the 70th minute as part of a triple change, and although he infused some energy into the Real Madrid midfield, he didn't have any notable contributions on the pitch. The Uruguayan has often struggled to influence games after coming on, and has proved to be a much better player while starting.
The LaLiga champions sorely missed their defensive midfielder, with the space he usually occupies between the centre-backs pointedly vacant today. Casemiro didn't have much to do after coming on as Real Madrid attempted to break the deadlock, and Zidane's decision to bench him didn't quite pay off.
Marvin Olawale Akinlabi Park: 5.5/10
Marvin grew into the game after a nervous start, but his lack of experience at the highest level was quite evident. He had his moments to make his Real Madrid debut a dream one, but couldn't take them.
Sergio Arribas: N/A
Arribas was handed an appearance off the bench after scoring in Real Madrid's only pre-season friendly against Getafe, but didn't do enough to warrant a rating.
Published 21 Sep 2020, 03:23 IST