UD Almería 1-2 Real Madrid (Lucas Vázquez & David Alaba). Here is the immediate reaction to the draw. Still to come: press conference best bits, player ratings and the ManagingMadrid podcast.
Day one for Real Madrid in La Liga has arrived, and the nostalgic trip to recently promoted Almería for the first time in years loomed over the team. Carlo Ancelotti recently hinted at his retirement after this Real Madrid stint, so this opening fixture has the potential to be his last. For it, he selected new singings Antonio Rüdiger and Aurélien Tchouaméni to start, alongside a very experienced team. Lucas Vázquez started at right-back in the absence of Dani Carvajal, with Fede Valverde placed ahead of him out-wide. Eden Hazard was once again left on the bench - but Rodrygo Goes missed out entirely through injury. Karim Benzema captained the team on match day one.
The game was fast paced from the off, and chances were rapidly come in from all angles. Lucas Vázquez had the first chance of the game with a wild strike - but it was the hosts who struck first as they took advantage of a deep Antonio Rüdiger position to beat the offside trap and score past Thibaut Courtois. Fede Valverde then tried to reply all by himself with a powerful effort that was well met by the opposite keeper. Karim Benzema then arrived into the action as his effort fell just above the crossbar, and Valverde decided to have another pop from range to no prevail. Rüdiger then came really close from a corner but the keeper remained on form - before Almería almost made it two with a great strike from a forward flying just over. The home goalkeeper looked up for saving everything, until Vázquez found the net from a first time effort - but the referee ruled it to be a very close offside. Half time arrived with it all left to do.
La Liga champs Real Madrid are down 1-0 to newly-promoted Almeria after 6 minutes pic.twitter.com/XEGIdFpFB5— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 14, 2022
Real Madrid weren’t exactly failing to create enough chances, but they would have to start being more clinical if they didn’t want an opening day upset. They started the second half on the front-foot once more, forcing a string of corners from dangerous shots and crosses into the box. Benzema saw a shot saved well inside the area - but it was Vázquez who would be the one to find the net again, and this time it would count. Vinícius Júnior showed a good turn of pace into the danger zone before being closed down, Benzema couldn’t capitalise on the loose ball - but Vázquez could. He smashed the ball low through the crowd to get Madrid back into the game. David Alaba was brought on amongst other substitutes to try and claw back the three points, and with his first touch he helped Madrid to do just that. Granted, Madrid had a free-kick in a good position, but the Austrian still stepped up to curl it home expertly. Casemiro came on to snuff out any response from the home team, but they did actually see a bit of the ball after this. They could have even scored the equaliser, but Courtois scrambled to stop the low shot and deny them any excitement. Eden Hazard looked sharp after coming on, which can be seen as another positive note for Real Madrid. After a lengthy period of additional time, including one dangerous header saved by Courtois - the referee finally put a stop to the game to cement the three points for Madrid.