San Sebastian, Spain, Sep 20 (efe-epa).- Real Madrid launched its campaign to defend its La Liga title on Sunday at Reale Arena Stadium in San Sebastian, Spain, with a disappointing battle to a scoreless road draw against Real Sociedad.
The La Liga champs and their rivals each took home one ranking point for the tie, but Madrid had to play without Eden Hazard or Gareth Bale – the latter currently on loan to Tottenham – and just could not find the twine, although they fired 16 shots on goal.
The capital squad coached by Zinedine Zidane did keep control of the ball for just over two-thirds of the match, by the clock, and managed to limit Sociedad to just six shots on goal.
On one of those shots, Madrid goaltender Thibault Courtois made a fabulous head-to-head stop of a blast by Alexander Isak, who had wiggled his way through all defenders.
At another point in first-half action, Madrid’s Karim Benzema flubbed a striking attempt even though he had faked Sociedad netminder Alex Remiro into a mistake before taking his shot, which went wide.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Martin Odegaard hit the pitch in his debut match for the capital team after having played for Sociedad on loan last season, racking up a blocked shot and managing to make two important passes in his midfield role.
Zidane’s boys managed to notch 10 consecutive wins at the end of last season, thus securing the title, but Real Sociedad kept them at bay in their first confrontation of the current campaign.
David Silva, playing his first match for Sociedad after 10 years with Manchester City, almost got his team on the board after coming in to replace Isak in the 62nd minute, but his shot from the edge of the box was blocked by Raphael Varane.
Late in play, with both teams desperately looking for a tally, the game seemed to become a little unraveled.
Despite the lackluster result in Sunday’s match, the team is still unbeaten in league activity so far this year with eight wins and three draws.
Madrid began its La Liga activity a week late this year because the team had to take part in Champions League competition.
Zidane’s squad will travel to Real Betis next Saturday, with the latter sitting atop two consecutive wins, while Sociedad will be on Elche’s home turf on the same day.
Real Sociedad: Remiro; Gorosabel, Aritz, Le Normand, Muñoz; Guevara (Gonzalez de Zarate, min. 88), Merino, Portu; Oyarzabal (Januzaj, min. 75), Barrenetxea (Bautista, min. 75) and Alex Isak (David Silva, min. 62).
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Mendy; Kroos, Modric (Valverde, min. 69), Odegaard (Casemiro, min. 69); Rodrygo (Marvin, min. 69), Vinicius and Benzema.
Official: Martinez Munuera. He showed yellow cards to Barrenetxea, Muñoz, Mendy and Carvajal.