Lopetegui and company now head to Catalonia and Girona, where they were embarrassed last year amid a backdrop of Spanish political tension, but another quiet win would be well-received.
However, Girona have the capacity to make themselves noisy yet again in what should be a first domestic challenge for the new man in charge at the Bernabeu.
BALL IN LOPETEGUI’S COURT
Lopetegui gives off the impression that he is a patient man, but the constant questions over who starts between the sticks each week will be battering his resolve like a woodpecker.
But there remains no justification for Lopetegui to drop Keylor Navas, despite his ‘inferior’ reputation and Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois’ new pair of golden gloves.
We’ve heard that Courtois needs to acclimatise to the club – though given that he has already spent a fair portion of his career playing in the Spanish capital for Atletico, surely he has an easier adjustment period than most.
Quite simply, given the precise defensive structure that Lopetegui is striving to put in place, to remove a key component he has worked with for the entire summer – unlike Courtois – so hastily would be foolish.
Interestingly, Lopetegui suggested that the Champions League will be a ‘kind of solution’ to the conundrum. Will Navas turn into a ‘cup’ keeper for Real, or is the group stage a chance for Courtois to be eased into a heavier role?
Until then, Lopetegui will have to contend with the same questions. It’s like when an NFL team takes a star college quarterback but insists it’s the incumbent veteran’s job to lose – everyone knows what will happen sooner rather than later.
TAKING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD
Anything less than a routine home victory against Getafe would have set the white handkerchiefs waving at the Bernabeu.
And having navigated that less-than-tricky La Liga opener, Los Blancos’ new-found rigidity will be put to a sturdy test in Girona.
Don’t forget, Girona were the team that beat Real 2-1 at home last October – effectively ending Zinedine Zidane’s title challenge before it had even got going. Then the four goals from Cristiano Ronaldo in the return fixture at the Bernabeu, ending 6-3 to the hosts, glossed over another shaky defensive display.
Indeed, the ethos for Zidane’s teams was shake or be shaken with their rock and roll, direct style of play. Conversely, albeit with a limited sample size, Lopetegui’s modus operandi is all about rhythm.
It is unreasonable to believe that the 78.1 per cent of possession they enjoyed against Getafe, their third highest share in a decade, will be a common occurrence but they have the personnel to assert this kind of dominance.
Lopetegui benched the no-frills Casemiro against Getafe and employed Toni Kroos as the head of the concerto. The slowed tempo led to less dynamism in attack but with Luka Modric set to return to the starting line-up, ahead of Dani Ceballos, it will be intriguing to see how the new mindset shakes out in a tough, hostile game on the road.
NO FEAR FROM GIRONA
Girona are unlikely to cower in the faces of Madrid again this season, despite the change of coach after the gifted Pablo Machin was snapped up by Sevilla over the summer.
Former midfielder Eusebio Sacristan is a disciple of the Camp Nou and stabilised Real Sociedad in the wake of the failed David Moyes experiment three years ago before he, too, was relieved of his duties in March.
The Catalonians like to play with a high line, usually in a 4-3-3 formation and have canny players such as Borja Garcia and Portu – a goalscorer in this fixture last year – and a midfield general in David Timor.
They didn’t have enough to break down Real Valladolid in a stalemate on opening day but striker Cristhian Stuani has managed to be prolific for just about the first time in his career in Girona’s colours.
Due to their partial ownership under City Football Group, Girona have Manchester City youngsters Aleix Garcia and Patrick Roberts at their disposal this season.
But look out for 18-year-old Pedro Porro, an injury stand-in who did remarkably well against Valladolid from right-back – as a natural winger no less. If he can cope with Marco Asensio, Isco et al, another Spanish star could well be born.
The Spanish Footballers Association (AFE) threatened on Wednesday to strike over controversial plans to play a La Liga match in the United States during 2018/19.
The AFE maintained its stance against La Liga’s decision and said they were “willing to go as far as it takes”.
After a meeting between all the captains, including Real Madrid‘s Sergio Ramos and Barcelona‘s Sergio Busquets, David Aganzo, president of the AFE, stated that he intends to hold a meeting in September with La Liga chief Javier Tebas where he will share all the complaints the players have made.
The decision by La Liga has been blasted as based only on “money and business”.
Although the aim is to avoid it, Aganzo did not rule out strike action if the issues are not resolved, issues that include the scheduling and financial situation behind the agreement.
“The players are outraged,” he said during his press conference after the meeting with the captains.
“We are tired of these unilateral decisions that directly affect the players like this plan of playing outside Spain.”
"The players are against it. It was unanimous. Some clubs are in favour and others against"— AS English (@English_AS) 22 August 2018
Spanish Footballers Association president speaks on behalf of "outraged" LaLiga captains over move to play in the USAhttps://t.co/7MADoScEnh pic.twitter.com/zpDFEe0aJ4
La Liga chiefs announced last Thursday that they planned to stage a match in America as part of an expansion drive.
The teams and the venue were not disclosed but El Pais newspaper said the match would take place during the current 2018/19 season and would probably feature either Barca or Real as one of the teams.
“If not at the end of September or the beginning of October we will have to start acting,” said Aganzo, adding the union was “prepared to go to the end”, evoking the possibility of a strike.
“We are used to seeing football played only for money and business,” added Aganzo who said La Liga officials no longer take into account “the health and risk for the players”.
The national supporters federation (FASFE) described the plan to move a match to the US as an “aberration”.
La Liga earned €3.6 billion in revenue during the 2016/2017 season, nearly 40 per cent of which came from TV rights and generated a pre-tax profit of €234 million.
For the 2017/2018 season, La Liga said it hoped to exceed for the first time the €4 billion mark in revenue.
The Barcelona captain is the highest-profile name among a list of Spanish league captains who will make known their feelings about La Liga’s announcement in due course. Real Madrid‘s Sergio Ramos and Atletico Madrid‘s Diego Godin will also add their signatures to a letter that will be delivered by all 20 captains.
La Lig announced a deal last week with Revenant, the parent company of the International Champions Cup. The 15-year partnership includes an agreement to play one league game in either Canada or the USA.
However, the Spanish players’ association say they were not consulted regarding the decision, prompting this step of having the captains sign a letter addressed to the league.