Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui conceded his side were “not clinical enough” after they lost their 100 per cent start to the new La Liga season in a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao.
Los Blancos were up against it for much of the match, with Iker Muniain sliding the home side in front in the 32nd minute at the San Mames before substitute Isco saved Real’s blushes in the second half.
The visitors had a handful of chances to snatch the three points with Bilbao keeper Unai Simon making a series of good saves, but ultimately the hosts proved good value for their point.
Lopetegui said in quotes reported on the club’s official website: “We were not clinical enough in taking our chances in terms of the game they wanted to play.
“All we were lacking was that final goal. We created a lot of chances and had double the amount of attempts as the opposition.
“We made several changes and we were gradually able to get up to the pace they demand of you. We were the better side in the second half, we got the goal and we could have scored more.”
Meanwhile the high-profile departure of Cristiano Ronaldo has heaped more spotlight on Real’s remaining stars and Lopetegui believes Luka Modric will soon be back at his best.
The Croatian is currently readjusting to life in the domestic league after his busy summer, which included leading his country all the way to the World Cup final.
Lopetegui said: “Luka had a tough summer for a number of reasons. He has now had some game time and some training sessions and he’s back with us and ready to have a great season.”
Real Madrid dropped points for the first time this season with an exciting 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday night.
Isco came off the bench to rescue a point after a scrambled first-half opener from Iker Muniain, and that was just about the right result from a pulsating encounter.
This is how the players rated in San Mames.
Simon – 8: Made several excellent saves and was composed throughout. Spilled Bale’s free-kick but made amends with great stop from the rebound.
De Marcos -7: Tigerish in the tackle and delivered a good cross for the opener. Strong at the back and purposeful going forward.
Yeray – 7: Booked for fouling Ceballos but nearly everything else he did was perfectly timed. Excellent in the heart of defence.
Martinez – 7: Authoritative performance from the Spain international, regularly getting himself into the right place just in the nick of time.
Yuri – 6: Fired a couple of first half shots straight at Courtois and tried to come forward as often as possible. Solid at the back.
D Garcia – 7: Technically outclassed by Madrid’s ball-playing midfielders but showed positional discipline and did a good job defensively.
Benat – 5: Less impact on the ball than he would like, struggling to establish his usual passing rhythm and was replaced near the end.
Susaeta – 8: Lively down the right, drilling a shot wide and finding a great pass to spark the opener. Switched flanks later and continued to impress.
R Garcia – 6: Linked midfield and attack with some deft touches, but faded after the break as he went to war with Casemiro.
Muniain – 6: Slow start but in the right place to prod home the opener. Became more influential before suffering an injury just after the break.
Williams – 6: Led the line with power and pace. Dragged an early shot wide and played a part in the opener. Ran out of gas.
Capa – 7: Replaced Muniain in midfield and was full of honest hustle and bustle down the right flank, giving Marcelo plenty to think about.
San Jose – 6: Strengthened the midfield for the latter stages and did his job to shore things up in the centre of the pitch.
Rico – 6: The final change for Athletic, entering for the last ten minutes. Came close to winning it with an injury time strike.
Courtois – 6: Didn’t always look comfortable between the posts but stayed alert to secure a point with a decent stoppage time save.
Carvajal – 7: Fantastic levels of fitness allowed him to become increasingly influential as the game wore on. Never stopped running.
Varane – 8: Great intervention to cut out one first half attack, and a similarly fine challenge near the end to sum up an excellent performance.
Ramos – 7: Strong at the back and regularly ventured forward, coming close with a close-range rebound and curling a free-kick over the top.
Marcelo – 6: Conjured some fantasy football flicks and tricks but little end product going forward and sometimes shaky at the back.
Modric – 6: Plenty of classy touches in midfield and occasionally ventured to the penalty area. Surprise when he was taken off after an hour.
Kroos – 6: Metronomic passing from his starting deep role in midfield. Less involved later on when he moved further forward.
Ceballos – 5: Workmanlike in the centre of midfield but offered little as an attacking presence and was substituted at half-time.
Bale – 6: Misfired with a few efforts on goal and was generally well below his best, but produced a brilliant half-volleyed cross for the leveller.
Benzema – 6: Floated in and out of the action, knitting play well in midfield but rarely looking like continuing his fine goalscoring start to the season.
Asensio – 7: Real’s biggest threat in the early stages, seeing a curling shot well saved. Also came close in the second half and always dangerous.
Casemiro – 7: Left out initially but came on at half-time and made himself a nuisance with powerful defending and measured play on the ball.
Isco – 7: Introduced to add goal threat and complied immediately, heading home the leveller from close range. Continued to regularly prompt danger.
Vazquez – 5: The last entrant for the visitors, replacing Bale for the last 15 minutes. Delivered some poor balls and got booked.
The Brazilian has become an instant hit for the Premier League side after signing from Watford in an eyewatering £40million deal over the summer.
He’s quickly silenced the doubters with three goals in his first three league games and the world is beginning to take notice of his talent after a delightful double for Brazil on debut during the international break.
Unsurprisingly while away with the national team, he was asked for his thoughts for one day signing for either Los Blancos or their Spanish rivals Barca.
“That way you leave me in a complicated situation,” he said laughing (h/t AS).
“They are two giants, the dream of any player. But I just got to Everton, I’m very happy.
“And in the end the next step will depend a lot on what you do here. So I hope to do a lot of good things in Everton, to win something relevant and to give back the confidence of the club and the fans.”