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25th August: Kroos starts as he means to go on at the Bernabeu (2014)
Toni Kroos had a busy summer in 2014, winning the World Cup with Germany in Brazil, and then confirming he was joining Real Madrid from Bayern Munich. 25th August brought his La Liga debut at the Santiago Bernabeu, an occasion which the then 24-year-old marked with his first assist for his new club, providing Karim Benzema with a typically perfectly flighted corner to head home. To date the 2014 World Cup winner has 15 goals and 47 assists in La Liga Santander, adding a second La Liga Santander winners medal just weeks ago.
26th August: Joaquin steps into Real Betis history (2001)
Real Betis fans present on 26th August 2001 witnessed one of the most important dates in the Seville-based club’s entire history. A skinny teenager called Joaquin Sanchez made his full La Liga Santander debut, playing all 90 minutes in a 3-2 defeat to fellow Andalusians Malaga.
The then 20-year-old soon became one of Spanish football’s most widely loved characters, for both his twinkling toes on the pitch and wicked wit off it. Following spells away at Valencia, Fiorentina and Malaga, Joaquin is now the outfield player to have made the most La Liga appearances in history (552 and counting). Now 39, but fit as a fiddle, he is preparing to add to that total when La Liga Santander returns next month.
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27th August: Modric steps into the spotlight (2012)
Real Madrid fans were not really sure what they were getting when Luka Modric was presented at the Santiago Bernabeu on 27th August 2012. It took the former Tottenham player a few months to settle at his new club, and he was left on the bench for the season’s first La Liga Clasico that October by then Blancos coach Jose Mourinho. Any doubts as to his quality and influence were soon dispelled however, and he soon established himself as a key playmaker in the starting XI. His contribution to Real Madrid’s successes since, and at international level, were duly awarded with the 2018 Ballon d’Or award. The now 34-year-old is still as influential as ever, pulling the strings for Zinedine Zidane’s side and winning a second La Liga Santander winner’s medal this summer.
28th August: Riquelme finds his home (2003)
Juan Roman Riquelme had already showed flashes of his talent during two seasons in La Liga with Barcelona, only to fall short of imposing himself on Spanish football. But the Argentine really shone after being unveiled as a Villarreal player on 28th August 2003. The crafty playmaker with the velvety touch and incredible vision went on to score 37 goals and give 29 assists in 106 La Liga games over the next four seasons as the Yellow Submarine climbed higher and higher. That Villarreal team, with current Real Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini in the dugout, and teammates including Diego Forlan, Marcos Senna and a young Santi Cazorla went down as one of the most attractive to watch in LaLiga history, and Riquelme retains his hero status around the Estadio de la Ceramica to this day.
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29th August: The world watches as Cristiano Ronaldo makes his LaLiga debut (2009)
The world was watching as Cristiano Ronaldo made his La Liga debut at the Santiago Bernabeu on 29th August 2009. The former Manchester United star did not disappoint, marking the occasion with his first Real Madrid goal, a coolly converted penalty in an entertaining 3-2 victory over Deportivo. More was, of course, to come. Over nine seasons in Spain, Ronaldo set a new club record of 311 goals scored in 292 La Liga games, while also winning two La Liga Santander titles before leaving for Juventus in summer 2019.
30th August: David Beckham quickly into his stride for Madrid (2003)
There was also a lot of interest in events at the Bernabeu on 30th August 2003, as David Beckham played his first La Liga game for Real Madrid after joining from Manchester United late in that summer’s transfer window. Beckham took just two minutes to score his first La Liga goal, tucking home a cross from fellow Galactico Ronaldo Nazario. The then England captain quickly struck up a relationship with fans and teammates due to his unselfish work rate and excellent passing and dead ball delivery. During four seasons in the Spanish capital he made 116 La Liga appearances, scoring 13 goals and giving 37 assists, winning a La Liga Santander title and Spanish Super Cup.