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Gareth Bale Scores in Real Madrid's 2-0 La Liga Win over Getafe

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 19, 2018

Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale kicks the ball past Getafe's Uruguayan defender Leandro Cabrera (L) during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid and Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on August 19, 2018. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
JAVIER SORIANO/Getty Images

Real Madrid got their La Liga campaign under way with a 2-0 win over Getafe at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, where Gareth Bale scored one goal and helped set up another in his 2018-19 league debut.

Dani Carvajal's looping header opened the scoring in the first half before Bale doubled their lead at a crucial juncture in the 51st minute to give manager Julen Lopetegui a winning start to his first league term with Madrid.

Luka Modric and Raphael Varane both started on the bench, but Los Blancos soared to victory nonetheless in what was an encouraging first league outing under Lopetegui.

           

Gareth Bale Shows He Will Revel in Ronaldo Leaving Madrid

An encouraging pre-season has only intensified chatter that Gareth Bale will be key to helping Madrid overcome Cristiano Ronaldo's departure for Juventus this summer, and Sunday's display only aided in cementing that view:

B/R Football @brfootball

Out of the shadow 😉 https://t.co/UAeOsLVkun

The signs were clear early on that Bale, named in an attacking three alongside Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio, was enjoying his football in Ronaldo's absence, to the downfall of Getafe left-back Leandro Cabrera:

Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC

You gotta say, Bale looks so happy right now. He deserves an injury-free season in Spain. Maybe this will be it. #LaLiga

Managing Madrid @managingmadrid

Bale is roasting his fullback rn.

The Welshman remains out wide but came close to opening Madrid's La Liga account when he got on the end of a fabulous cross in with a first-half diving header, though he could only connect with David Soria's crossbar.

Had he dispatched that, Bale would have kept up an impressive Madrid tradition, though journalist Richard Martin noted he was still involved in crafting their breakthrough:

Richard Martin @Rich9908

For the first time in four seasons Gareth Bale does not score Real Madrid's first goal of the La Liga campaign but he did help set it up.

It was his ball in that led to Soria's failed clearance for Carvajal to score, but Bale showed all his predatory instinct to capitalise on some poor Getafe defending and hoover up his chance to make it 2-0 on 51 minutes.

Broadcaster Deji Faremi argued another addition is needed to help make up for Ronaldo's absence, although there's no rule that states Madrid must score the same amount to achieve similar success:

Deji Faremi @deejayfaremi

@obi_eneji I still prefer ZZ's. I liked the balance. But yes, a scorer is needed to play with Benzema & Bale, or on place of Benzema

Further assessment of Lopetegui's approach will be required to see how Bale's role in the attack has changed—if at all—but his first league outing suggests he's got the potential to be more of a finishing product.

More than anything else, Ronaldo leaving has left a major void in the attack's seniority, and as a first league outing, Bale showed incredible promise for what's to come in terms of the influence he's set to have.

         

Lopetegui's Tiki Taka Influence Evident Despite Modric Absence

You can take the manager out of the Spain managerial post, but you can't take that Spanish team influence out of the manager, it seems, after Lopetegui showed on Sunday his intention to push a more pass-oriented narrative with Madrid.

Modric was left on the bench after several weeks of rumours linking him with an exit for Inter Milan, per BBC Sport, but La Liga writer Simon Harrison commented on how the passing was preserved:

Simon Harrison @simonhfootball

The big thing that is spooking Getafe is how quickly Real Madrid look to press and win the ball back. Can see the rewards of Lopetegui’s change of style in that regard already.

That's not to say Madrid couldn't have done with the Croat—they would likely have looked a lot more incisive had he started—but the players supplied were sufficient to complete the task at hand.

Lopetegui won't have discouraged speculation he prefers Spanish stars by starting the likes of Dani Ceballos, Asensio and Isco, though Harrison argued they were a positive:

Simon Harrison @simonhfootball

Assured stuff from Real Madrid. Nice to see some interchange between the likes of Isco, Asensio and Bale. Controlled possession, dictated play and nice to see Dani Ceballos getting a chance to settle.

Fan account totalBarca couldn't see the same change in tactics under Lopetegui, however, albeit with some bias perhaps tilting opinion:

totalBarça @totalBarca

Lopetegui certainly has his own unique ideas about how to play. But so far FC CrossTheBall still seems like the name of the game.

Zinedine Zidane employed a slightly more wild approach in the Madrid helm to great success, operating more prominently on the counter, though the possibility appears that will change under the new chief. On Sunday, Madrid completed 91 per cent of their passes, per WhoScored.com; their average in the league last season was 88.3 per cent.

Fans need not worry too much about the future of Modric and Varane, however, which Los Blancos writer Kiyan Sobhani simply attributed to both players taking longer to adjust after featuring in the World Cup final:

Kiyan Sobhani @KiyanSo

RE: Panic over Modric, Casemiro, Varane on bench and Spanish agenda blah blah blah. Two of those are world cup finalists who are still getting into it slowly. Casemiro is not 100% healthy. Ceballos and Nacho are good players, btw.

        

Getafe Must Evolve Big-Game Tactics to Crack European Code

It's a difficult premise for smaller sides to approach the heavyweights of their division, particularly in Spain, where many would agree La Liga's Big Three rule the roost with a tighter grip than other major leagues.

But Getafe are at a crossroads in which they have the potential to break their own mould following last season's eighth-place league finish, their best in La Liga since they took sixth in 2009-10.

Last term saw those very building blocks put in place as they managed one draw against Barcelona, two wins over Valencia and a draw against Sevilla, though they failed to get a point from Real or Atletico Madrid.

For too long the Madrid outfit settled for being "plucky" or "admirable" against their capital city rivals, but even fan account Managing Madrid highlighted a result could have been on the cards for Sunday's visitors at half-time:

Managing Madrid @managingmadrid

HT: Real Madrid 1-0 Getafe. Don't want to say "dominant" performance but Madrid controlled the entire game. The away side didn't get a shot off & Los Blancos had over 80% of the possession. We could finish some of our moves better but Getafe is a well organized team. I'm happy.

But the chance was never grasped, and familiar trends of allowing the bigger sides to attack set in. Jorge Molina and Gaku Shibasaki were given sub-standard supply in attack, and two defensive errors cost them otherwise a chance to surprise.

Debuting against Lopetegui's Madrid was particularly difficult after he's come in to place such an emphasis on passing and possession, combined with the hosts' desperation to start with a win.

If Getafe are to improve on last season's finish and qualify for Europe this season, they need cooler heads but fierier hearts in their mission to show Spain's elite they aren't to be trampled on.

        

What's Next?

Los Merengues will be on the road in Week 2 and travel to Catalonia to face Girona next Sunday, while Getafe are scheduled to host Eibar in their first home fixture of the new campaign on Friday.

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