Real Madrid 3-0 Roma: Champions League result, report
Isco, Gareth Bale and Mariano scored for Real as Los Blancos saw off Roma in their Champions League opener at the Bernabéu on Wenesday.
Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui enjoyed a dominant victory in his first Champions League game in charge as the holders got their European campaign underway by beating Roma 3-0 at the Bernabéu on Wednesday night.
Isco, Bale and Mariano seal opening win for holders
Embarking on their first Champions League bid without Cristiano Ronaldo since 2008/09, Real were, despite creating a glut of chances, made to wait until the stroke of half time before Isco broke the deadlock with a fine curling free-kick.
The opportunities continued to come thick and fast for the European champions in the second 45, and on the hour mark Gareth Bale doubled their lead after running onto Luka Modric's slide-rule pass and finishing low across Robin Olsen.
Substitute Mariano Díaz, re-signed by Los Merengues from Olympique Lyon this summer, then rounded off the scoring with a superb late strike from range on his second debut for the club.
Keeper Keylor impresses on return to side
Despite their overall dominance, however, Real did also have Keylor Navas - recalled to the side in place of close-season signing Thibaut Courtois - to thank for more than one commendable save.
With Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow drawing 1-1 in the night's other Group G fixture, Real end matchday 1 two points clear at the top of the table, with a trip to Russia up next on 2 October.
Real Madrid vs Roma: as it happened
Real Madrid vs Roma: match preview
Cristiano Ronaldo hit 105 Champions League goals in his nine years at Real Madrid, in the following impressive scoring sequence: 7-6-10-12-17-10-16-12-15. He was the tournament's top marksman on five separate occasions and, with the Portuguese in their ranks, Real lifted the trophy no fewer than four times. Now, all those goals, all that contagious ambition, are gone, never to return. So tonight not only marks the beginning of a Champions League campaign for Los Blancos, but the beginning of an era, one in which it is hoped the efforts of many will replace the work of one. It's an idea which, it seems, not everyone is convinced by: the holders kick off the competition's 2018/19 edition lower in the betting than would usually be expected, and are currently somewhere between fourth and sixth favourites.
Saturday's match in Bilbao did not help. The belief had been growing that Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, scorers thus far of eight of the side's 13 goals this term, would take the step to the fore that the club is hoping for, but as soon as the first big opponent homed into view, they went missing. Meanwhile, Luka Modric hasn't returned from the World Cup in the finest of form. However, Marco Asensio's sustained starting status has accelerated his growth. He is yet to find the net, but he has three assists to his name and has also won three penalties. Meanwhile, certain tweaks designed to bring about a side more reliant on the collective: higher pressing, increased possession (with Real enjoying as much as 68% and leading LaLiga's passing charts) and an insistence on getting bodies into the box (leading to a per-game average of 16 shots). Two issues are still to be resolved: Keylor Navas and Isco. The decision Lopetegui makes on them today will shed light on the significance of his recent rotation of the pair.
10 years without silverware
Up against the back-to-back-to-back Champions League winners are Roma, who aren't your average club. The Giallorossi are headed up by Jim Pallotta, who was born in Boston to Italian parents, is co-owner of the Celtics and, together with three partners, bought 67% of the Serie A club from the Sensi family for 67 million euros in 2011. He travels to Rome once every six weeks and aims to export the US model of sports club ownership - obsessive when it comes to marketing, disciplined financially, entertainment-industry oriented - to a country chiefly moved by passion. Which means that criticism for Roma's 10 years without major silverware is making itself heard more than the plaudits for the club's 400 million euros in profits over the past few years and a planned new stadium more in keeping with the times.
Eusebio di Francesco's side go to the Bernabéu having reached the semi-finals last term but, with 12 new signings brought in over the summer, doubts surrounding whether those who have arrived (the likes of Steven N'Zonzi, Javier Pastore and Justin Kluivert) are at the same level as those who have departed (such as Alisson Becker, Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman). Di Francesco, an Italian champion with Roma as a player, is struggling to produce a winning formula from Monchi's 2018/19 vintage: after all, the men from the capital have just one win from four Serie A games in which the 49-year-old has fielded four different XIs. Third in the Italian top flight last term, they are currently ninth, with seven goals already in the 'against' column. Not a single player has scored more than once, and only one of their summer recruits, Pastore - who is unavailable tonight due to a calf injury - has netted. What's more, Roma do not travel well: last season, they owed their place in the last four to turnarounds at the Stadio Olimpico, and only managed beat Qarabag on the road. Yet such statistics should not conceal the fact that they boast a striker in Edin Dzeko who poses an extreme threat to Real (the Bosnian has grabbed 45 goals over the past two Serie A campaigns), and remain a side which, though inconsistent, are no strangers to claiming memorable scalps.
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