The Champions of La Liga – Real Madrid started the campaign slowly – ended up the opening encounter against Real Sociedad without scoring a goal and shared points. Zinedine Zidane trusted in youth and in this season this would be seen more often. It is evident that Real Madrid would rely on home-grown talents more and more to build a better future so that they don’t need to break the bank and buy big names – one of them until now, has given the Los Blancos nothing.

Zidane started with Martin Odegaard in the midfield along with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. All eyes were on Odegaard and how he fares in this system. There is no doubt about the technical gifts Odegaard possess – press-resistant and able to essay incisive passes, but even though, Odegaard is defensively good, but midfielders like him can’t ensure team security like Casemiro and Fede Valverde.

Zidane’s starting trio in midfield lasted 69 minutes together until Casemiro replaced Odegaard and Valverde replaced Modric.

Real had more than 70% of the possession in the first half along with neat-passing and movement. Odegaard positioned himself between the lines, and unlike Isco roaming in a diamond, stayed mostly central in a 4-2-3-1 behind Benzema — with Rodrygo and Vinicius on the flanks making overlapping runs.

Despite trying to cope with the position of Zidane, Odegaard hinted at how well he positions himself in the transition to receive the ball behind the opposing midfield.

At San Sebastian, the Los Blancos struggled to break the deadlock.

Defensively, the team looked good for the major part of the first half – Real had a few defensive sequences on either side of the half where they scrambled, and the absence of Casemiro became evident.

Sergio Ramos would sprint over to the right and Carvajal to the left. Both Ramos and Raphael Varane were solid reading passes and covering for their full-backs. Carvajal started off sluggish, but recovered well and made several good vertical passes to Odegaard and Rodrygo. Mendy on the other end was good on both ends of the field.

After the horrendous show against Manchester City in the Champions League, Varane dished out a marvelous show and without him, Thibaut Courtois would have been bombarded with shots.

The number of times Varane appeared to make a clearance or to intercept the through-balls or close down a runner, had been outstanding. He was calm and composed – his desperation block on David Silva had an element of coolness to it.

Varane made a team-high 2 clearances, team-high 3 interceptions, and won the ball back a team-high 9 times.

Then, Thibaut Courtois was impressive as Alexander Isak bore down on goal amid a rare Sociedad foray, his effort turned away by the toe of Courtois.

But you need to score goals and despite the dribbles, pace, and pressing forward – the goals did not come. The workload on Karim Benzema was noticeable. The sharpness was lacking even though he was never short of dedication.

Madrid had their hosts under pressure from the outset but did not threaten to capitalize on their dominance until late in the first half.

Alex Remiro was scarcely troubled before the 38th minute, yet Karim Benzema’s harrying prompted a rushed pass from the goalkeeper straight to Vinicius Junior, who quickly fed Madrid’s number nine. Benzema rounded Remiro and looked certain to score but skewed an off-balance effort across the face of goal.

Both teams made substitutions and after a decade La Liga witnessed the arrival of David Silva whereas Real debuted a Nigerian – Marvin Park for the first time.

But the goals did not come.

A slow start and offensively, Real need to find the way to score more goals.