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Deportivo La Coruña
August 25, 2014
• Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Referee: Jesús Gil
• Attendance: 70356
K. Benzema 30'
Cristiano Ronaldo 90'
That's it from me, though. I've been Keeghann Sinanan, and it's been fun!
Ancelotti will have concern with the difficulty that his side had breaking down the opposition at times. Tougher tests are to come, but then again, Madrid are still bedding in some new signings. Cordoba can take pride in their ability to cause Madrid danger on occasion.
Madrid worked hard, but deservedly run out winners in the end. They keep a clean sheet and get three points on the board straight away. Not a bad start to the Liga season for them!
90' + 4'
That's it! Three points to Madrid!
90' + 2'
Into the second minute of added time here. That last goal was met with relief more than anything. It would have been no good from a Madrid perspective for them to drop points this early. As I say that, Fidel comes close to a consolation for Cordoba with a tester from 25 yards that flashes wide of the bottom corner.
Goal C. Ronaldo
RONALDO SEALS IT! The Portuguese gets off the mark in La Liga for this season. Cordoba are caught on the ball in their own half, and Ronaldo is quickly fed. He has eyes for only one thing, and lashes a long range shot that bounces with unerring accuracy into the bottom corner! Excellent strike!
Madrid continue to look for that diagonal ball behind the defence to pick out runners cutting in from the flanks. This time, Lopez intercepts to prevent Marcelo from getting a clear sight on goal.
OFFSIDE! Ronaldo thought that he had wrapped it up with a great diagonal run to latch onto Modric's lovely ball, but the flag was up as soon as he had poked the ball into the back of the net. Correct decision again. The officials haven't put a toe out of place tonight.
Time is ticking and Cordoba haven't threatened in a while now. Madrid look to be closing this one out with little difficulty. Most of the action is concentrated in the half of the visitors, who are chasing shadows at the moment. About five minutes plus stoppage time to go.
RIGHT AT THE KEEPER! Ronaldo swings in a cross that Bale has a good sight of, but he directs his header right at the keeper! That was a wonderful opening to wrap it all up. It's been a recurring theme tonight, the amount of shots that Madrid have put straight down the throat of Juan Carlos.
I mentioned the problems for Isco caused by James' arrival. Well, another expensive Madrid prospect may face a similar dilemma. Illarramendi, on the bench tonight, looks to be second choice to Kroos at the moment in the Madrid midfield. He may yet find some solid minutes if los Blancos begin to phase out Xabi Alonso, but it's far from a perfect situation for him.
Time may eventually be Madrid's greatest ally here. They're doing a good job at the moment of keeping the ball and preventing Cordoba from causing any problems. Khedira's introduction for Benzema signals a change in emphasis from Ancelotti for his side to hold on to what they have.
Interesting swap here as Madrid make their final change. Benzema departs for Khedira, who receives a mixed reception from the home crowd. The fans are not happy with his uncertain future, especially after missing most of last season with injury. He's been a good servant to Madrid for the past few years though, doing the dirty work in midfield when no one else wanted to.
Isco is a fascinating case. He started last season with a bang, spearheading the midfield in Ancelotti's 4-2-3-1 formation. However, he was eventually exiled to the bench when the manager shifted to a 4-3-3 to best play to the talents of both Ronaldo and Bale. Now, he finds his path to the XI further blocked by James, the man he replaced tonight.
Madrid's turn to indulge in some substitutions. James' league debut is ended, with Isco replacing him. Also, Arbeloa takes a backseat to Carvajal. A bit surprising that the former Liverpool man was given the start in the first place, but he was solid on the night.
Yellow Card Karim Benzema
CORDOBA HAVE A GOAL RULED OUT! Fidel is causing problems on the left hand side, and he angles an inch of space to squeeze a shot in. Casillas has to parry, but it's right into the reach of Xisco, who prods home! However, the flag is up and replays show that the decision is justified, with Xisco standing offside as the initial shot came in.
Xisco wins a header from a corner thanks to poor marking from Madrid, and he nods it back towards the opposite side of the goal. There, Pantic tries to get a half-volley acrobatically on target, but he's not even close.
Still only a goal in this, and the home fans are starting to get nervous in the stands. Their support is not as unequivocal as before, with Madrid finding it hard to get that killer second.
Havenaar's race is run after a solid shift where he caused the pairing of Pepe and Ramos their fair share of problems. On comes Xisco, once of Newcastle in the Premier League. He had a dreadful time in England, only scoring once in the league against Hull.
Fede gets the better of Ramos on a 50-50 ball near the touchline, and is one touch away from having a clean run on goal. He has to get past Pepe first though, and the Portuguese defender is off his mark quickly to beat the Cordoba substitute to the ball.
Cordoba's good start has all but been forgotten as Madrid continue to raise their game. The scoreline means that this match is still very much up for grabs though. A dangerous position for the home side to be in as one goal for Cordoba throws the cat right back among the pigeons.
SPLENDID SAVE! James picks up a loose header inside the box and needs no second invitation to smack a half volley on goal, but Juan Carlos pushes it away! Cordoba make a sub soon after, with Fidel replacing Matos. The winger was more present in the second half, but still didn't do enough to convince his coach to keep him on the pitch.
Havenaar is an interesting case. He was born in Hiroshima, to parents who moved to Japan from Netherlands. After spending his early career playing for various Japanese clubs and winning caps for the Japan national side, he moved to Netherlands to sign for Vitesse, appearing for the Eredivisie club for three seasons before Cordoba picked him up this summer.
Yellow Card López Garai
Fede has really added a different dimension to Cordoba in this second half. Once again, the Argentine causes problems on the ball, sliding a tricky pass to Havenaar after shaking off a challenge. The striker almost gets a shot off, but Casillas is off his line and first to the ball.
Bale uses his pace against Crespo and beats the full back all ends up, but Pantic slides across to provide a further deterrent, causing the Welshman to run the ball over the byline.
James whips in a free kick from the left side and Juan Carlos has to jump high and punch hard to get rid of the ball ahead of his man. Madrid are starting to get back into stride now. Are Cordoba going to rue not making their emphatic start to the half count?
It's been a very interesting battle all game between Havenaar and Ramos. The big striker has had the edge in terms of aerial duels won, but on two occasions, Ramos has stepped in to snuff out a potential goal from the forward.
Pantic misses a header from a corner as Cordoba continue their impressive start to the half! They win the ball back again to keep the pressure on, and Matos tests Casillas with a low shot from distance! Well, this was unexpected! Do we have a game on our hands?
EARLY OPENING! The visitors very nearly steal one right at the onset of the second half! Crespo pops up for the first time in the attacking end, sliding in a low ball for Havenaar to attack, but Ramos is there just in time to intervene and prevent the shot from finding the target!
One change to round up from the half time break. Fede is the man to come on, Pinillos the one to depart. He really had nothing to offer offensively on the left flank, and though he helped out in his own half, his yellow card may have made him a ticking time bomb.
Federico Nicolás Cartabia
Here we go again!
If this pattern of play continues, I doubt that Madrid will be denied more goals for long. Their quality on the ball is simply too much for Cordoba to handle. Join me for the second half soon.
Cordoba faded alarmingly after a bright defensive start, and now look like the gumps in a training exercise. Apart from Havenaar occasionally throwing his weight about, there's been nothing on show from them in an attacking sense.
It took Madrid half an hour to break down the opposition, but they managed to take the lead through Benzema's header. They've been clearly the better side, dominating the ball and testing Juan Carlos often.
The ref has seen enough for now, it's half time.
Small joy for the visiting fans as they win a corner thanks to Havenaar causing problems with his lanky frame. And the delivery is well attacked by the same player, who gets to the ball ahead of Casillas, but is put off from finding the target thanks to the pressure from Ramos! Had he got that on goal, then the Madrid keeper would have been stranded!
As the half has worn on, it's become clear one-way traffic in the direction of Juan Carlos' goal. Cordoba were initially adept at stopping the Madrid combinations and passing triangles outside their area, but they almost seem to be giving los Blancos too much respect now.
Another underrated aspect of Madrid's summer recruitment drive is the plethora of set-piece takers in their ranks. Ronaldo and Bale are both capable of the spectacular when they get it right, while Kroos and James also have a cultured touch from dead balls. A lot of teams struggle to have one genuinely dangerous set-piece taker, Madrid have four on the pitch at the moment.
This first half has just flown by! I've enjoyed seeing Madrid's new boys slowly develop an understanding on the pitch. Kroos and Modric in particular look to be forming quite the relationship in the heart of midfield. It's almost impossible to win the ball off them!
First sight of Cordoba in an attacking sense in a very long while. Lopez Silva spies the gap and unleashes a half-volley that was supposed to nestle heroically into the top corner, but instead makes the ballboys work to get the ball back from the fans.
The Cordoba stopper is tested yet again, this time from James' attempt from the edge of the D. It's straight at him though, and he has little trouble keeping a hold of the ball.
Well you can't say it hasn't been coming. After a timid start by their standards, Madrid have ramped up the intensity in the last few minutes. Juan Carlos has increasingly become the busiest man on the pitch.
Assist Toni Kroos
Goal Karim Benzema
BENZEMA CRACKS IT IN! What a bullet header! Kroos took the corner and whipped it right into the heart of the area. From there, the Frenchman turned his head and planted a powerful effort home! Juan Carlos had no chance!
JUAN CARLOS TESTED AGAIN! Benzema links with Ronaldo on the right hand side, and escapes to the byline on the overlap thanks to the Portuguese's return pass. His drilled shot takes a deflection and forces the keeper to tip out for a corner!
Madrid are really starting to knock on the door now. Modric weighs his options at the top of the box, spots the gap, and elects to go for goal himself. It's a little too close to Juan Carlos though, who pushes wide. Better from Madrid, who are suddenly looking a more dangerous prospect.
Deep corner from the right hand side by Bale sees a Cordoba head once again win the initial header. Madrid recover though and work the ball to Ramos via James, but the defender's one-time shot is right down the throat of Juan Carlos, who makes no mistake.
Rossi gets the ball into the area, but Benzema, back defending, gets the clearance in. Cordoba still have every right to be proud of their offerings in the opening half. Madrid are not going to have it all their own way tonight, based on the evidence so far.
Could this be a chance for Cordoba? Havenaar is brought to the turf thanks to a late tackle from Modric, which gives the visitors a good set piece chance within range of the Madrid goal.
NOT BAD! Modric, in a training ground routine, plays the set piece square to the top of the box, where Ronaldo is lurking to smash on goal. However, Juan Carlos gets his hands to the shot, and rises to smother the rebound before anyone else can pounce!
Pinillos becomes the first booking of the game, conceding a free kick on the right hand side of the box for taking out Arbeloa on the overlap. He knew exactly what he was doing there, the left winger. At least he made some effort to track back there!
Yellow Card Daniel Pinillos
Benzema seems a bit disconnected from the rest of the front three so far. James too hasn't really shone in the opening 17 minutes, but then again, it's been a cagey start to proceedings overall.
Fausto Rossi has had a very active game already in the centre of the park for the visiting side and he steps up to the plate once more, nipping the ball off Modric in what had the potential to be a dangerous position.
As is par for the course when smaller sides play away from home, you would expect set pieces to be one of Cordoba's most prized routes to attempt to grab a goal in this game. Havenaar, Pantic and Lopez all are very capable in the air, with the former in particular having a good two inches on almost everyone else on the field.
I'm liking the defensive effort from Cordoba so far. They are fully aware of the threat of pace moving in behind from los Blancos, and are keeping a very deep defensive line, forcing the scheming to occur in front of their back four. Crucially, they're not allowing much room for shots from the edge of the box either.
First signs of life from the visiting side, and Havenaar as expected is on the end of it, snapping an opportunistic shot wide of the target from just inside the box. They've been written off by almost everyone today, the Liga minnows, so that has to be seen as a positive sign.
WAS THAT A PENALTY? Ronaldo endeavours to attack Marcelo's excellent deep cross from the left hand side but he goes down in a heap after pressure from Crespo. The referee is unmoved though, and replays show it to be a 50-50 call.
Bale wins the first battle of wills against Ronaldo - taking charge of Madrid's first free kick within shooting range of Carlos' goal. However, he pings it high and wide of the woodwork. He may not get a crack at the next one!
As expected, Real Madrid have dominated the ball since the first whistle. Plenty of noise inside the Bernabeu this evening as the home faithful watch their team embark on a quest that they hope will end in a first Liga title since the 2011-12 campaign.
We're off at the Bernabeu!
With Diego Lopez gone, it's now a straight shootout between Iker Casillas and Keylor Navas for the No. 1 jersey. And it appears that the long-serving Madridista has drawn first blood against the Costa Rican sensation by being named in Carlo Ancelotti's first Liga XI of the season.
Madrid get their Liga campaign up and running for the season with some tasty new toys in the XI. Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, stars of the 2014 World Cup, both line up in the famous white strip for the first time in the league.
Cordoba (4-5-1): Carlos; Gunino, Inigo, Pantic, Crespo; Rossi, Garai, Pinillos; Ryder, Lopez Silva; Havenaar.
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric; Bale, James, Ronaldo; Benzema.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Real Madrid's clash with Cordoba. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your guide for all the action.
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