Rusty Real toil in goalless opening draw at Sociedad

22 Sep 2020

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SEN SEABASTIAN: Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy (second R) falls beside team-mate Karim Benzema and Real Sociedad’s Robin Le Normand (L) during their La Liga match at the Anoeta Stadium.—AFP
SEN SEABASTIAN: Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy (second R) falls beside team-mate Karim Benzema and Real Sociedad’s Robin Le Normand (L) during their La Liga match at the Anoeta Stadium.—AFP

MADRID: Real Madrid began the defence of their Spanish title with a tepid 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad on Sunday as Martin Odegaard made his first league start for the reigning champions against his former club.

Real are heading into the La Liga season after making no new signings this summer, with president Floren­tino Perez admitting the club has to be cautious amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Odegaard is the closest thing to a new arrival, the attacking midfielder returning early from his two year loan with Sociedad, after he shone for them last season.

But there have been a string of sales, including Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez.

Norwegian Odegaard, whose only other league appearance for Madrid came in May 2015, lasted 69 minutes before he was replaced by Casemiro.

“We didn’t get the win. I’m not happy about that, but I’m pleased to play with Real Madrid,” Odegaard told Movistar. “It’s always a bit difficult at the start but it’s easier for me with all these incredible players I have around me.”

The champions looked rusty and particularly toothless up front, barely creating any chances of note in either half as Karim Benzema found little support in Brazilian teenage forwards Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo.

Sociedad looked more likely to score in either half, with Sweden forward Alexander Isak forcing Real keeper Thibaut Courtois to save with his feet before flashing a shot narrowly over the bar before halftime.

Lively winger Ander Barrenetxea was inches away from breaking the deadlock early in the second period but fired just wide of the far post.

Benzema missed Real’s best chance of the first half when he lost his footing as he rounded goalkeeper Alex Remiro and later saw a goal-bound shot blocked by a dive from Sociedad defender Aritz Elustondo.

Granada lead the table with maximum points after two rounds following Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Alaves with goals by Roberto Soldado in the seventh minute and Darwin Machís in the 79th.

Real Betis trail on goal difference after beating Real Valladolid 2-0 with a penalty from Nabil Fekir and a William Carvalho goal.

In a match between promoted clubs, Cadiz won 2-0 at Huesca with goals by Álvaro Negredo in the 11th and Jorge Pombo in the 83rd.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2020