Athletic Bilbao 0-2 Real Madrid (Rodrygo Goes & Jude Bellingham). A win in the first game. Here is my reaction to the league opener. Still to come: The player ratings, post game highlights and a ManagingMadrid podcast.
The season is upon us, albeit shrouded by concerns over injury and potential signings. Ahtletic Bilbao were to host the opening game, and Real Madrid would be without star man Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian will miss far more than one match after it was confirmed that he tore his ACL - so all eyes were on the goalkeeping situation as the club had not yet signed an emergency replacement. Andriy Lunin would get the opportunity to make a good impression, as he started behind a defence including re-signing Fran García. Jude Bellingham made his debut for the club in a midfield diamond of Fede Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni. Rodrygo Goes and Vinícius Júnior made up the attack, leaving plenty of space for a certain Frenchman to slot into should the time come. Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos began the season on the bench.
It was a scatty start to season, as many might predict with this fixtur- but Jude Bellingham were Vinícius Júnior were early bright sparks. The game was pretty even with neither team posing much of a threat up until Rodrygo Goes got things going with the opening goal of the season. He did superbly well to beat the keeper from a difficult angle in style. Things became easier for Madrid after this, as the team dominated possession and even struck the post with a headed attempt. Jude Bellingham would mark his debut, and a strong first a half performance with a well timed bouncing effort first time that looped overt the keeper to make it 2-0. Fran García fancied getting in on the action right at the end of the first half too, but his weaker foot volley sprayed well wide of the target. 2-0 and cruising at half time, the youngsters were flying.
Jude Bellingham scores on his debut as Real Madrid player in La Liga. ⚪️✨— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 12, 2023
…and looking at prices this summer, he was probably a bargain for Real on €103m fixed fee plus €30m add ons.
What a player. pic.twitter.com/mFfho2mPYB
The second half started on a downer as Éder Militão slipped over and injured what appeared to be his heel - and had to be replaced by Antonio Rüdiger. This set the tone for the next phase as Madrid took their foot off of the gas a little. Bellingham was of course still shining throughout, but chances started to dry up for the visitors. It remained so apparent how dominant these exciting young midfielders were - with numerous passes and dribbles allowing for so much time on the ball in good areas of the pitch. Bilbao put some pressure on via corners and a couple of decent through balls, but an attempt well blocked by David Alaba would be the best that they could conjure up. Another new re-signed Castilla graduate, Joselu Mato, was brought on alongside Luka Modrić to try and get the chances flowing again. Luka almost made it three after a decent team move allowed him to shoot low towards goal, but the keeper saved it easily enough. This turned out to be the last of the chances, as five minutes of added time came to a close to confirm the 2-0 away win - and the first three points of the season. What did you think about the game? Be sure to tune into the podcast later to hear Kiyan rave about Jude for 5 hours straight!