After spending 305 million euros on new signings, then demoralizing the fans in oblivion during pre-season, then to have Eden Hazard injured before the opening fixture, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid appeared in Vigo.
The old Madrid, the same eleven as is always seen. However, what we saw against Celta was a version of Los Blancos that was a reminder of the first incarnation of Zidane’s Real Madrid.
This was a the team that, for three years in a row, strode into the Champions League overflowing with confidence, that same confidence which has been missing in these players for many months. Specifically since Cristiano Ronaldo left.
Now, the lines were closer together, ready to minimize errors, and above all they were active with a desire which seems like something quite new. They played seriously, attentively and with a sense of purpose.
It isn’t entirely true to say there was no significant news at Balaidos given Real Madrid started Gareth Bale. The Welshman played with enthusiasm, integrated into the system and was willing to show Zidane that the can’t afford not to take advantage of that.
The reason, it turns out, is that when Bale has all five footballing senses working, he is not just an advantage, he is the best player in the squad. And during the first half against Celta he was.
With Bale engaged, with Benzema honed, with Casemiro covering, with Courtois making saves, with Kroos unleashed, it didn’t matter that Real Madrid has just ten men from the 56th minute.
Real Madrid still have great players capable of putting together a brilliant goal like the third against Celta, even though there is still the need for a midfielder. And don’t forget the return of James Rodriguez is still to come.