Julen Lopetegui emphasised the strength of the Real Madrid‘s group rather choosing to elevate individuals after his side rallied from a goal down to see off Girona 4-1.
Real came undone at the Montilivi last season, beaten 2-1 despite taking an early lead, but refused to allow a repeat in their second Primera Division outing under the former Spain boss.
Borja Garcia’s fine finish hinted at history repeating itself but the visitors responded with four unanswered goals to take the points.
Two penalties either side of half-time – a nerveless ‘Panenka’ from Sergio Ramos and something more conventional from Karim Benzema – reversed the lead before Gareth Bale’s strike and a second of the game from the French forward.
Any of the three might have claimed the limelight – Ramos for scoring in his 15th consecutive season, Bale for making it two in two games or Benzema for showing a modest Liga campaign in 2017/18 may be out of his system.
But Lopetegui’s reacton suggested Real’s post-Cristiano Ronaldo years may focus more on the unit.
“The team is the one that works and when it works, the goals come in the form of Gareth, Karim or Sergio,” he told Movistar.
“The important thing is that they arrive, not who gets them, the team has made collective sense.
“I emphasise the mentality of the team. The match was difficult. In a hard moment of the game we have shown we know how to play.”
Lopetegui once again left summer signing Thibaut Courtois out in favour of Keylor Navas, a situation that is unlikely to persist given the former Chelsea number one’s status.
When, or if, the change will be made was unlikely to be revealed after a solid showing from the Costa Rican shot-stopper, though.
“We will see how the goalkeeper rotation evolves,” said the coach.
“I have three excellent goalkeepers and we see it as good solutions. Today Keylor has done very well and we will see what happens in the future. I have things in my head about goalkeepers but I’m going to say nothing.”
He was similarly vague about World Cup finalists Raphael Varane and Luka Modric, who have not started either league game since returning later than most from their exploits in Russia.
“Varane and Modric will be train little by little in the team. We have alternatives and competition and that’s good for the team,” offered the manager.
Atletico Madrid secured their first win of the new season on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano, but Diego Simeone acknowledged his team aren’t close to being where they want to be due to the short pre-season as a result of the World Cup.
“We know that pre-season was a difference pre-season and now we have to work during the year to recover the lost pace we didn’t have during the pre-season,” Simeone said.
See Simeone’s full comments in the video below.
Real Valladolid coach Sergio Gonzalez said after the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona that he thought his team had deserved to walk away with a draw.
“We were very involved the first 30 minutes, we knew how to suffer, be strong and endure situations of danger to grow and surpass us, making good football and looking for a point that finally did not come and maybe we deserved,” he told the club’s website.
Watch his post-match comments below.