Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to inspire Real Madrid to a win in Rafael Benitez’s first competitive match as Real Madrid manager as Sporting Gijon worked hard all night to ensure that they gained a point from one of their toughest fixtures this season.
Real Madrid dominated the game but the absence of Benzema was felt throughout the game as Gareth Bale’s aimless running only frustrated the Welshman and his teammates. Cristiano Ronaldo found hiomself crowded out whenever he came close to possession and Isco’s inability to release the ball quick enough only served to slow Real Madrid down when they tried to get out of the blocks on a counter attack. Mateo Kovacic came on for his debut in the second half, replacing Isco but unlike Pedro for Chelsea. Kovacic looked like he clearly needed time to settle into the team.
One game into the season and Real Madrid have already fallen behind Barcelona as the catalan club have claimed all three points from their opening game. Benitez and his boys now have to play catch up so early in the season.