Real Madrid and Celta Vigo brought La Liga BBVA back to the Santiago Bernabéu in a night when the new Grada Joven kicked off their presence in the South part of the stadium replacing Ultras Sur.
The match started quite slowly for Real Madrid, and the first chance came when Charles caught the whole defense off guard. Luckily enough for the team, Diego López showed how good he came off vacation and saved the shot. It was quite a clear one on one and it is always good to see the goalkeeper saving those kinds of chances when they come, but Pepe should've done better and ruined the offside trap.
The offensive line struggled early on too. After 15 minutes, the crowd had already booed the squad in a couple of occasions, especially after Sergio Ramos rushed plays too often. Di María and Isco were really sloppy, and only Carvajal's offensive contribution seemed to spark the team a little.
Benzema found the ball inside the six-yard box after a brilliant cross by the Spanish right back, but a Celta defender managed to deflect the ball and send it to corner-kick. Shortly after, a good counterattack driven by Cristiano Ronaldo and Di María ended up safely on Yoel's hands. Modric tried to score a screamer on the 27th minute, but his shot went a bit too high.
It's obvious that Celta were playing quite defensively, but it should have not been that hard for Real Madrid to harm Luis Enrique's team. Celta had a very dangerous chance in the 31st minute off a corner-kick, proving Real's struggles against set pieces.
It only took 33 minutes for the referee to prove how bad he is at officiating. Clear advantage rules not taken and one obvious yellow card to a Celta man for stopping Real's counterattack with a foul.
Ancelotti didn't like what he was watching, so Gareth Bale started his warming up routine with 30 minutes gone. Real Madrid as a whole needed to wake up. Alonso was not distributing the ball quickly enough against Celta's five-man midfield, and Modric was rather invisible throughout the whole first half. With Isco and Di María turning the ball over as well, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema didn't find the ball in dangerous positions.
The first half concluded the same way it started, with Real Madrid unable to find Celta's goal and a very cold atmosphere. Ancelotti decided to introduce Asier Illarramendi for Xabi Alonso after halftime. Alonso was under performing, so the Italian coach tried to fresh things up.
Cristiano Ronaldo first shot of the half was off target, and the team still showed some worrying signs against Celta's parked bus. Carvajal was still Real's best player, regaining possession all over the place and also launching counterattacks.
Real Madrid improved a bit after Illarramendi joined the game. Still, the crowd's discomfort with the play increased every minute. Jesé joined the team for Isco, and the wonder kid soon had a chance to put Madrid ahead after Ramos tried an acrobatic shot. Isco is still not finding his place on Ancelotti's new 4-2-3-1 formation, even though analysts thought he was going to adapt properly to the attacking midfielder position.
Gareth Bale made his return to the team on the 64th minute, leaving his spot on the bench to a mediocre Ángel Di María. The Argentinian winger left the field listening to a lot of whistles, but Ancelotti's substitution soon paid off. Ramos found Carvajal on the right wing, who faked Celta's left back and crossed the ball to Jesé. 'Big Flow' crossed it to Benzema, who only had to push it inside the net. Great play by Real Madrid and a good way to shake off Celta's defensive game plan. While the play was really good overall, Carvajal's touch, fake and cross should get a lot of credit.
Ancelotti had completed all three substitutions, so the team on the pitch was not built to defend properly. that's why Celta started to control the game looking for the equalizer. Real Madrid defended with 9 men, Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema staying upfront.
Considering how well Jesé Rodríguez is performing lately, he should be considered as the first replacement for Gareth Bale. Di María will want to play more, for sure, but Ancelotti should want the best for his team and not the best for Ángel Di María.
Carvajal completed his brilliant performance with an assist to Cristiano Ronaldo on another cross. He was arguably Real Madrid's best player on the field. Outstanding match by the young defender who started the season struggling a lot.
That second goal put the nail on Celta's coffin, but Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to do more. The Welsh player showed his power through the right wing and crossed it to Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored his second goal. He didn't play particularly well, but he still got a brace. What a scorer.
It was a slow start to the new year 2014, but the team collected the three points and stays on Barcelona and Atlético's toes a week before both of Real's rivals face off at the Vicente Calderón.