A very early Sergio Ramos error left Real Madrid with a mountain to climb against Real Sociedad, but they sufficiently navigated the summit and turned in one of their best performances of the season. Questions were answered and others were generated, as is discussed below.
1. Will Real Sociedad make it three in a row?
This was a very difficult fixture for Real Madrid and by far their toughest home game of the season so far. Not only were they facing one of the most impressive and fun teams of the 2019/20 season so far, but they were coming up against a side that did the double over them last season. Real Sociedad won 2-0 at the Bernabéu last January in the famous “todo ok José Luis” game and then fell to a 3-1 loss in San Sebastián in the penultimate round of the season. You couldn’t even call this fixture a banana skin as it wouldn’t have been too surprising had Real Madrid struggled. But they didn’t. They got the job done.
2. Can Thibaut Courtois break Keylor Navas’ record?
Keylor Navas’ record for not conceding a goal with Real Madrid was 534 minutes and Thibaut Courtois had a chance to break it as he entered this game with 533 minutes since last picking the ball out of the back of the net. Ramos’ terrible back pass meant that Courtois conceded in the second minute, but he was still able to surpass Navas and post a record of 535 minutes without conceding for Real Madrid.
3. How will the fans react to Gareth Bale?
The big talking point of the past week was, of course, Gareth Bale and his ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid’ celebration. This was his first appearance at the Bernabéu in 49 days, as he hadn’t been available for a home game since the Granada win at the start of October. All ears were on the Welshman and the crowd’s reaction to him and it’s fair to say it wasn’t good. Booed and whistled when his name was read out before kick-off and booed and whistled when he was substituted on, the fans – apart from those in the singing section and a few others dotted around the ground – made their anger clear. There were even some banners listing supporters’ preferred order for the right forward depth chart. Let’s just say Bale wasn’t near the top of these lists…
1. Can Gareth Bale win over the Bernabéu crowd?
Related to the previous answer, we now have a question. Can the relationship between Bale and the Bernabéu crowd be repaired? There has been tension here before and the Welshman has always been able to win back the trust and admiration of most of the fanbase by doing his talking on the field. This time, though, it seems the anger is at another level. He performed well on Saturday night and already turned some of the boos and whistles into applause. He still has thousands of fans to convince, though.
2. When will Martin Ødegaard make his third Bernabéu appearance?
This was the second time Martin Ødegaard played at the Bernabéu. The first came on May 23rd 2015 for the home side and then exactly four and a half years later he was back, this time representing Real Sociedad on loan. When will he be back next? It’ll be next season – barring a Copa del Rey pairing – but will it be at the very beginning of the campaign with Real Madrid or will it be whenever La Real visit? His loan deal is for two years and the playmaker has repeatedly insisted he’d like to fulfill that commitment, but the reports of Real Madrid wanting to recall this gossamer talent next summer and not in 2021 keep growing. Will he be in the 2020/21 Real Madrid squad? We’ll have to wait and see.
3. Which three midfielders start against PSG?
Zidane has a problem, but a good problem. His four main midfield options are all healthy and they’re all performing at a high level. Against PSG, he needs to pick three out of Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modrić and Fede Valverde. The Brazilian will surely start in his usual anchoring role, but who else gets to play from the off? Kroos didn’t start against Real Sociedad on Saturday, suggesting he is in line to do so in midweek. So one of Modrić or Valverde is set to miss out. But which one?