Jude Bellingham is the hero of the Bernabéu. The Englishman kept up his scoring streak to bag a 96th minute winner against Getafe, giving Real Madrid a 2-1 victory in their first game with the roof in place at the Bernabéu. There is so much to discuss from this first home game of the season, so here come three pre-match questions that were answered and three new questions we have going into the international break.
1. How would the new Bernabéu look?
More than Real Madrid vs Getafe, today was being billed as ‘The Return to the Bernabéu’. And, going back to the stadium was quite something. They’ve done A LOT of work during the summer, including finishing the retractable roof, which was left closed today to keep the noise packed inside and to make for a unique atmosphere, something new even to this 76-year-old venue. As well as that, there were two huge new videoscoreboards in place, even if they weren’t in use yet, and the stand behind the south goal was back, with the Grada Fans in place. Moreover, there was new sleek and modern signage and LED boards at the stadium gates. Of course, there is still work to be done, and there were leaks with water dripping onto some fans in front of the press box. But, all in all, the new-look Bernabéu feels incredible. It feels epic.
They've done A LOT of work at the Bernabéu over the summer. It's insane! Like the Death Star. Just sat down and the closed roof adds something really unique.— Euan McTear (@emctear) September 2, 2023
Here's a few snaps of the new look. More detail coming up on @managingmadrid. pic.twitter.com/oBOTIqFczv
2. Could Real Madrid overcome Bordalásball with Joselu and Rodrygo?
Now to the football… This was going to be a test for Real Madrid, with José Bordalás setting his Getafe side up in a very defensive formation. It was a back four, but keep in mind there were also two centre-backs deployed in the midfield, in Djené and Alderete. So, could Real Madrid break the low block down and do so without Vinícius? Well, they struggled. After a fruitless first half, Los Blancos got a breakthrough at the beginning of the second half from the pinball breakdown of a corner. What followed was almost 50 minutes of trying to pull the Getafe defence this way and that way, with Kroos so good at this, before Los Blancos tried to play the killer pass, only for that pass to skid through and over the byline too often. But, Real Madrid kept pushing and another breakdown from a set piece saw a Lucas Vázquez shot spilled in a crowded penalty area. Who was there? Of course it was Bellingham. Real Madrid couldn’t beat the Bordalásball with just Joselu and Rodrygo, but with Bellingham, who is almost as much a forward as those two, they could.
3. Would Bellingham score on his home debut?
So, to the other question fans had arriving at the ground. As much as Madridistas were excited simply to see the upgrades to the stadium and to see Real Madrid’s first home game in three months, there was also a real buzz at the prospect of seeing Bellingham live. This may just be anecdotal, but most of the fans in 2023/24 replica shirts that this author saw en route to the Bernabéu were wearing Bellingham No.5s. So, would he keep up his scoring run? Well, yes. It took 96 minutes, but the Englishman once again displayed his elite awareness to pounce on David Soria’s spill from a Lucas Vázquez shot, turning in the late winner and provoking the Bernabéu’s first rendition of “Hey Jude” since his arrival.
1. Is there Vindependencia? And how can Real Madrid cope with it?
Sometimes you have to take what Ancelotti says in his press conferences with a pinch of salt. So, when he said on Friday that Real Madrid would maintain the 4-4-2 diamond even in the absence of Vinícius, it made sense to wait and see it to believe it. But, he wasn’t lying. Real Madrid did keep the diamond shape, with Rodrygo moving over to the left side of attack and with Joselu slotting in on the right, but mostly staying central. It clearly wasn’t all that effective, and today’s game showed just how much Vindependencia – a dependence on Vini – there is at Real Madrid right now. Even though Bellingham is proving to be a Galáctico signing, Vinícius should miss a few more games and Ancelotti will have to come up some solutions, and maybe a temporary move away from the diamond is needed.
2. Will Fran García keep his position?
It has generally been a positive start to Fran García’s Real Madrid career, but his Bernabéu bow didn’t go to plan. His back pass caused the Getafe opener and it was a poor first half in general from the Spaniard, who was hooked at half-time, with David Alaba moved to left-back. With Alaba playing well there in the second half and with Ferland Mendy expected to return from injury during the international break, will Fran García keep his place and start Real Madrid’s next match, at home to Real Sociedad on September 17th?
3. Where does the Bernabéu rank in terms of the world’s best stadiums?
Let’s finish by discussing some more this incredible arena that Real Madrid have constructed. Where does the Bernabéu rank in terms of the best stadiums in the entire world? It’s without doubt the best in Europe at this point, but perhaps some of the new US venues like Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas or SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles still stand out. Either way, Real Madrid fans have a beautiful home to enjoy for decades to come, located right in the heart of Spain’s capital.