Real Madrid kickstarted their new era under Julen Lopetegui with a 2-0 win over Getafe at Santiago Bernebeu in their opening game of La Liga. Dani Carvajal and Gareth Bale secured the victory in a match which drew headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The Spanish club have begun their season without Zinedine Zidane at helm, who left his managerial post earlier this year after guiding Real to three UEFA Champions League titles in two and a half years in-charge, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo, who decided to join Italian giants Juventus after nine years at the club.
It seems their departure hasn't just affected the team on the field, but also off it. Against Getafe at Bernebeu which can accommodate 81,000 spectators, only 48,466 fans attended the stadium, which is the lowest attendance for the club in the league since past 10 years. Though, the players did not let it affect them, as they produced a professional display earn a comfortable victory.
Lopetegui chose Keylor Navas at goal, with a back four of captain Sergio Ramos, Nacho, Carvajal and Marcelo. The former Spain manager chose Dani Ceballos, Toni Kroos and Isco as part of his midfield three, keeping World Cup 2018 Golden Ball winner Luka Modric on bench. Up front, Karim Benzema led the line alongside Marco Asensio and Bale, who is tipped to fill the shoes of Ronaldo.
Bale seemed ready for the occasion, and nearly scored in the 16th minute, when he met a cross by Marcelo. But the winger's header hit the cross bar and went out of play. Getafe were lucky to have not conceded, but they ran out of luck in the 20th minute.
A cross from the left was poorly punched by Getafe goalkeeper David Soria to the edge of the box. Carvajal was open, and he directed a perfect header into the far corner to give his side the lead.
Real thought they had doubled the lead in the 43rd minute when Ramos fired the ball into the net. But the referee had blown the whistle for a foul. At half-time, the home team led 1-0, and were unlucky to have not scored more.
Five minutes into the second half, and Real got the elusive second goal. Asensio drove towards the left wing and put a good low cross in the box, which was met by Bale's left foot. The goalkeeper tried his best to stop the effort, but it crawled into the net.
Los Blancos were very unlucky to have not gotten a third goal, with Asensio hitting the post and goalkeeper making a few good saves. In the end, Real won the match 2-0, though, not in front of a crowd they might have expected.