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Real Madrid make best start to a season since 1968

Real Madrid make best start to a season since 1968

Real Madrid have made their best start to a season in 54 years following their 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid in Sunday’s La Liga Madrid derby at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Despite the absence of star striker Karim Benzema through injury, Carlo Ancelotti placed his faith in Rodrygo, who volleyed home the opening goal from Aurelien Tchouameni‘s lofted pass in the 18th minute.

By the 36th minute, Los Blancos had doubled their lead, with Federico Valverde pouncing to finish from a tight angle after Jan Oblak had managed to divert Vinicius Junior‘s effort onto the post.

Real Madrid would not add to their lead before the half-time whistle blew, and Atletico reduced the deficit with 83 minutes on the clock in somewhat fortuitous fashion.

Thibaut Courtois was caught in no man’s land following a corner, and the ball deflected into an empty net off the shoulder of Mario Hermoso, who was then sent off for a second bookable offence late on.

Real Madrid's Federico Valverde in action with Atletico Madrid's Koke on September 18, 2022© Reuters

Diego Simeone‘s side left it too late to spark a comeback in front of their own fans, as Real Madrid opened a season with nine consecutive wins for just the third time ever.

Los Blancos have only ever achieved such a feat twice before, winning their first 11 games of a new campaign in all tournaments in the 1961-62 and 1968-69 seasons.

Real Madrid won the Spanish top-flight title in both of those seasons, but they failed to clinch the European Cup in either of them, losing the 1962 final to Benfica and being eliminated in the last-16 to Rapid Vienna six years later.

Since beating Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup, a perfect start to Real’s league season has seen them defeat Atletico, Almeria, Celta Vigo, Espanyol, Real Betis and Mallorca.

Ancelotti’s side have re-established their two-point lead over Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table, and they have also started the defence of their Champions League crown with back-to-back wins over Celtic and RB Leipzig in Group F.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti on August 20, 2022© Reuters

Despite his side’s perfect start to the season, Ancelotti is staying grounded and has warned his players that they could still “suffer a blip” in what he predicts will be a tightly-fought title race.

“Barcelona are doing very well and we’re doing very well. I think it’ll be a strange season and we don’t want to know what will happen after the World Cup,” Ancelotti told reporters at his post-game press conference.

“We or Barcelona could suffer a blip later on, like Atlético are suffering just now at the start. It’ll definitely be a more competitive title race than last year.”

Real’s win over Atletico was overshadowed by incidents of alleged racism from home supporters towards Brazilian attacker Vinicius Junior, who was also the target of abuse prior to the game over his dancing celebration.

Los Blancos will be back in action against Osasuna on October 2 following the international break before hosting Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League three days later.

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