Visiting El Madrigal to face The Yellow Submarine is never an easy thing, as we saw last season in Gareth Bale's debut with the white T-shirt (2-2) or, more recently, when Barcelona managed to win by 0-1 in this season's Day 2. In the end, a great performance by Los Blancos served to get the three points and finally forget a rough start of the season.
Villarreal: Asenjo; Mario, Musacchio, Víctor Ruiz, Gabriel; Bruno, Trigueros (Jonathan dos Santos, m. 68), Cani, Moi Gómez (Espinosa, m. 61); Uche (Giovani dos Santos, m. 65), Vietto.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo (Nacho, m. 76); Kroos, Modric, James (Illarramendi, m. 74); Bale, Benzema (Isco, m. 84), Ronaldo.
The first half
The first minutes of the game were quite complicated for Real Madrid. As we were expecting, Villarreal displayed an intense pressure on our defenders and midfielders when starting our possession, and their offensive transitions were terribly fast, and this resulted in a couple of dangerous approaches to our goal.
Despite having seen a goal scored by Ramos, that was correctly nullified by the referee in the fifth minute, Villarreal's ruling of the game lasted until, approximately, the thirtieth minute. Varane, Ramos and Casillas were, undoubtedly, our best players because of their control of our own box. Our midfielders were not able to match the intensity of our opponents and it seemed that the rhythm they were imposing was too fast for our hopes.
However, the match changed drastically in the 32th minute. It was basically the first time our players were able to make the ball circulate for a while in Villarreal's side of the field and, at some point, Luka Modric got it five metres away from the top of the box. Ronaldo's race in front of him cleared a lane towards Villarreal's goal that Luka saw and, with a brilliant shot, he scored the first goal in the afternoon.
The goal may have been unfair to Villarreal's deployment in the first thirty minutes, but it fell as a heavy blow from which they were not able to recover. In fact, the match was really over eight minutes later. James stole a ball in our side and threw a fantastic long pass to the left wing. Benzema ran into open space, went inside the box and put a perfect pass that Cristiano did not miss.
The second half
After the break, the game looked more similar to what we are used to. Kroos and Modric stepped up and were finally able to dictate the tempo of the game and it seemed as if they had sang a beautiful lullaby to their rivals. Marcelino's substitutions tried to make his team recover the intensity they had been displaying in the first half, but they were never able to do so. Instead, Marcelo, Bale and Ronaldo missed the chance to get the third goal.
To avoid complications, Ancelotti sent Illarramendi in for James and switched to the more solid 4-4-2, and nothing really remarkable happened until the end of the game. Nacho took Marcelo's place, who was suffering some minor problem in one of his eyes, and we got to see ten minutes of Disco, but unfortunately the third goal never arrived.