Zinedine Zidane once again left Gareth Bale out of the matchday squad, starting with bright young talent Brahim Diaz instead while Vinicius Junior made an appearance off the bench.
Brahim impressed with a fine solo effort in the sixth minute to give the away side the lead but Sociedad responded strongly and were rewarded for their efforts.
A superb team goal was rounded off when Willian Jose laid the ball off for Mikel Merino to steer home the equaliser in the 26th minute.
Jesus Vallejo reduced his side to ten men when his hand ball on the line conceded a penalty and earned him a red card. However, Thibaut Courtois was able to deny Willian from the spot.
The second half though saw the hosts take the lead through Joseba Zaldua before Ander Barrenetxea’s towering header added a third.
Here, we rate Madrid’s players.
STARTING XI (4-3-3)
Thibaut Courtois 6 – Made a fine save in the first half before standing his ground with a penalty save. But then watched helplessly as three were put past him.
Dani Carvajal 4 – Barely got forward to support the attack and failed to plug gaps in defence as well.
Jesus Vallejo 2 – So poor was his performance that his sending off for a blatant hand ball on the line was almost respite for a defender in turmoil.
Nacho Fernandes 5 – Good on the ball and the best of the back-line but that’s not saying much.
Marcelo 3 – Inexplicably decided not to compete for a header, merely giving Barrenetxea a boost to head home a third. Poor positioning throughout.
Isco 5 – Had a great chance in the first half but his shot was straight at the keeper. Struggled to create in the final third and was hooked early in the second half.
Casemiro 5 – Made a few contributions defensively but grew frustrated and picked up a needless booking.
Toni Kroos 5 – Retained possession expertly but failed to build any momentum with his passing.
Marco Asensio 4 – Flashes of good play and bursts of acceleration but largely, a whole lot of nothing.
Karim Benzema 6 – Led the line well, setting up some good chances, even bagging the assist for Brahim’s goal. However, only had one shot. Lacked goal threat.
Brahim Diaz 7 – Technically superb and his outstanding individual goal was the best Madrid had to offer. Has a bright future.
Luka Modric (for Isco 56′) 4 – Failed to make an impact. Slotted in alongside Kroos and mirrored his passing.
Lucas Vazquez (for Diaz 65′) 4 – Didn’t see much of the ball after coming on apart from the one shot off target.
Vinicius Junior (for Asensio 76′) N/A – Showed great quick feet inside the area but not enough time to make an impact.
Real Madrid-bound Rodrygo is looking forward to hearing his name chanted at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Brazilian signed for Los Blancos last season and will be joining the squad next month. A Madrid fan since his childhood days, Rodrygo made no attempts to hide his excitement ahead of the big move during his interview with Marca.
The forward admitted that it’s not easy to focus on his game at Santos, with Madrid waiting to claim him. But Rodrygo is determined on ending on a high with his current team.
“I’ve tried to focus solely on Santos during this time. Sure it’s difficult to focus on something other than Real Madrid. Knowing you’re a Real Madrid player and not thinking about it is difficult. I’ve tried to think about Santos and keep growing as a player ahead of coming to Madrid.
“The Santiago Bernabeu is beautiful. I knew the stadium from seeing it on TV and I always wanted to play there one day. I always play at the Bernabeu on the PlayStation. It was a dream come true.
“[The stands] were very tall and very beautiful. I used to imagine this whole stadium singing my name, saying ‘Rodrygo, Rodrygo’ and celebrating my goals,” he concluded.
A brace from Mariano and Jesus Vallejo’s close-range strike ultimately gave the home side all three points, although Villarreal had been on level terms
through Gerard Moreno and created numerous chances before Jaume Costa scored in the fourth minute of injury time.
Despite Karim Benzema being ruled out through injury, Bale was deemed surplus to requirements by Zidane, fuelling speculation that Bale will leave the Bernabeu in the summer.
“I’m the coach, I have to pick the team and that’s all there is to it,” Zidane said.
Watch what else the Real boss had to say on Bale in the video above