Celta defied by 10-man Real Madrid in Balaídos
Real Madrid chalked up a 3-1 victory in Balaídos that was laced with controversy, bubbled over into acrimony at times but was ultimately capped by four fine goals and a red card shown to Luka Modric for a stamp on Denis Suárez.
Match official Javier Estrada Fernandez will be the subject of debate after hs application of the letter of the law to Modric, following a VAR review, but his first-half performance was also eye-catching with the referee ruling out a Celta goal for offside while allowing Madrid's opener despite an apparent Casemiro foul in the build-up and liberally booking players for dissent after both incidents.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring for the visitors with a tap-in after good work from Gareth Bale - a surprise inclusion in Zinedine Zidane's first starting XI of the season - on the left and Celta thought they had equalised on the stroke of half time when VAR intervened. Aspas picked up the ball in the area and fed Brais Méndez on the right, the Spain international tucking home a low shot, but the eye in the sky ruled that he was offside despite replays appearing to show Odriozola had played the ball forward to him. It was a point Aspas argued effusively during his post-match interview and could have turned the game in a different direction.
In the second half Modric's sending off - a correct decision under new, stricter laws governing stamping - seemed to turn the tide in Celta's favour but just moments later Toni Kroos buried an unstoppable strike past Rubén Blanco to make it 2-0.
Celta reacted and went close through Aspas, El Toro Fernández and Méndez but substitute Lucas Vázquez put the game to bed when Real capitalised on a Pione Sisto error, the Galicia native breaking local hearts with a drilled effort from the right channel.
Celta youngster Iker Losada landed a deserved consolation with the clock ticking down but Celta will feel they deserved more from the game while Zidane's side, which notably did not include any new signings at any stage of the encounter, rode that famous "flor" of their manager's all the way back to Madrid.
And that's the whistle! And there are plenty more around Balaídos as the home fans make their feelings towards the ref abundantly clear.
Aspas almost sneaks it! The striker wriggles through onto Sisto's ball and but is thwarted by Courtois and the lino's flag.
Celta still pushing for another... Ramos breaks up the attack.
Gooooooooooooool! And it's the youngster Losada who finds the back of the net with a vicious strike across Courtois! It's too little too late but Celta certainly deserve one.
Just a formality now as the clock ticks down... there'll be four minutes of added time.
El Toro heads off for Iker Losada, who is still officially registered with Celta B.
The Spain midfielder gets two bites as he sends his effort into the wall and then hits a lovely upswinger towards the near corner, drawing another fine save from Blanco.
Celta understandably with a little less wind in their sails now. Free kick to Real in Isco range....
Beltrán off to an ovation as Pape Cheikh comes on for his debut after joining on loan from Lyon.
Aspas sneaks in behind and plays the ball back to find nobody there. That rather sums up Celta's luck this afternoon.
Pione Sisto played a loose ball out and the Galician found some space on the right, Marcelo and Benzema helped it across to him and he drifted in between two markers and hammered a shot past Blanco.
About 15 minutes left, including stoppage time, for Celta to rescue our Quiniela...
Isco is on during all of that, Bale off after a decent afternoon's work from the Welshman.
Marcelo hammers a ball upfield and there is not a Real shirt within 50 yards of it. There might be plenty of that now with Real more or less camped in their own half.
Zidane has ordered his remaining nine outfield players into a 4-4-1 formation.
Pione Sisto on for Lobotka.
David Costas into the book for a scything challenge on Benzema, one of those that look fantastic on a soaking wet surface but are pure yellow-bait on this kind of turf.
Zidane appears to be preparing to bring Isco on to add a bit of guile to the midfield, and some ball-retention skills. Real will be looking to hang on to this lead more than extending it.
Aspas! Celta break and the Spain striker curls an effort just wide of the target!
Casemiro again involved as he gets in the way of Denis Suárez to prevent the Celta winger winning the ball back.
Aspas! Casemiro, who has been excellent today, makes the block to divert the Spaniard's shot out for a corner.
And it's Vinicius who goes off to make way for the utility forward.
Zidane preparing to bring Lucas Vázquez on... still no sign of any of his new arrivals getting a kick today.
Odriozola finally earns his yellow by hauling down Denis. He's been walking a fine line for a while now.
The home side have half an hour against 10 man to claw their way back into this.
What a blow for Celta, who have been by far the better side in this half and came so close to levelling just seconds before that thunderbolt.
Gooooooooooooooool! Kroos! What a strike from the German! An unstoppable bullet into the top corner, in off the underside of the bar!
Benzema! The Frenchman connects with an Odriozola cross and sends a header towards the inside of Blanco's near post and the Celta keeper makes an excellent save.
Zidane preparing to shuffle his pack. Celta have the bit between their teeth now.
Courtois! What a save from the Belgian from a point blank header! Corner to Celta, Bale clears. Now we have a game of football...!
And indeed it is a straight red for the Croatian! The ref has certainly redressed the balance of his performance so far with that decision! It was probably more of a yellow...
More jeers for the ref as Modric again escapes a caution for a trip on Denis Suárez. It is a Celta free out on the right though.
Celta are knocking on the door though.
No, correct decision! The replays show the ball hit Casemiro in the thigh, then his chest.
Penalty appeal! Celta claim a handball in the area but the ref waves it away!
Aspas! He is through this time but Courtois stands firm and denies the Spain striker with his feet.
Another poor decision as Aspas is pulled back for offside when he was streaking away down the left. He wasn't.
Benzema! The Frenchman sends an effort just wide of the far post!
Second half underway! How will Celta react to that blow on the stroke of half time?
Celta enjoyed more of the ball than the visitors during the first half but only managed the one shot, which was off-target, other than Méndez's disallowed goal.
But on the other hand it should give Celta two things to mull at half time. One, Odriozola is a weak link in the Real defence and two, the home side's two decent chances have both come from the flanks. Perhaps a switch from the current 4-2-2-2 formation to add more width would be profitable.
Aspas found his way into the book in the melee that ensued after that decision.
And that's the half! Celta will not be happy about that decision and in our opinion, rightly so. The ref has not had a great 45.
Incredible scenes in Balaídos as the goal is chalked off for offside! It was tight, but surely Aspas had the benefit of the doubt as the ball was played forward into the area. VAR says no dice, Balaídos erupts and Madrid go into the break 1-0 up.
A right old mix-up at the back from Real. Aspas appeared to be fouled in the area by Odriozola, who had played a horrible ball straight to the Celta striker then hauled him down. But as he was going, Aspas managed to tee up Méndez who stroked it past Courtois.
That's the 45 up, there won't be much added. Nope, one minute is yer lot.
Bale! What a crack from the Wales forward, who draws another excellent save from Blanco.
Celta play the ball into towards Méndez on the edge of the area but Marcelo does enough to prevent him getting a shot away.
Real in control of the ball at the moment, seeking a way through. Casemiro tries his luck from distance but it's bread and butter for Blanco.
Varane covers the lines well to cut out a through ball for Aspas.
Real press well to prevent Celta getting out of their own half but Kroos concedes a free kick.
Méndez sees a pass that none of his teammates do, bringing an end to a promising bit of build-up play from Celta. Straight into the channel between the two central defenders, not a sky blue shirt in sight.
Vinicius finally coaxes the yellow out of the ref's pocket for pulling Denis Suárez back on the break.
What a save from Blanco! Modric hits a low shot across goal and the Celta keeper makes an excellent one.handed stop.
Bale, who has been in pretty decent nick so far this afternoon, picks up the ball, charges down the right and puts in an outside-of-the-boot cross but there's nobody there to meet it.
Vinicius does enough step-overs to get his own feet in a tangle in the area and Celta clear. Varane mops up a defensive error at the back with Celta starting to cause problems up top.
Celta almost find a way through! Aspas breaks down the right and squares for El Toro Fernández but Casemiro got the faintest of touches to divert the ball away from the Uruguayan, who would have had a tap-in there.
Bale turns on the afterburners to chase down a hopeful Marcelo ball out from the back but the move breaks down as Odriozola again clatters into Kevin Vázquez.
Celta with plenty of possession at the moment but it's all in their own half. Another foul on Denis Suárez and this time it's Odriozola, and again it could well have been a card but the ref keeps them close to his chest.
Celta need to try something different here because the home side have failed to summon a single shot on goal so far.
Meanwhile, Aspas goes in the book for protesting.
Celta are up in arms as Modric avoids a yellow for a cynical trip in midfield. The ref is not a popular chappy in Balaídos at the moment.
Fran Beltrán skins Vinicius but again there is little forward momentum to add to the touch. Celta are finding it difficult to find their forwards and that, as Confucius once said, is not likely to result in many goals.
That goal has settled Madrid after a bit of an uncertain start and Celta are finding it hard to get a foothold in midfield.
Rubén Blanco was carded for his opinion on that goal incidentally, the Celta keeper going in the book for dissent.
Nobody there to meet it though and Real clear their lines.
Fran Beltrán with some glorious skill to evade two Real markers on the touchline but there's a bit of a chasm between the midfield and the forward line for Celta, who have a corner now...
That's got the heckles up in Balaídos for sure. The crowd are not happy.
And not without some controversy as Celta feel there was a foul by Casemiro in the build-up, but the goal stands. Bale slid the cross in and Benzema just had to tap it in from a yard. Celta incensed by the match officials and not without some justification as they'd switched off expecting play to be brought back.
No chances really at either end and Madrid are having plenty of problems playing it out from the back under the Celta press.
Real try to go long and give Bale something to chase but it bobs out over the byline.
Free kick from the left lofted into the box by Kroos but it clears everyone and thumps into the gloves of Rubén Blanco.
Bale has looked fairly lively from the off and he tries to cut inside from the right to make something happen but runs into David Costas.
And precisely Kevin is the first into the book as he chops Kroos down from behind.
Free-kick out on the right for Celta as Ramos brings down Kevin Vázquez. Lucky not to go in the book there Ramos, we guess the ref checked his watch and thought he'd let him have a freebie.
Pretty frantic start from both sides, Celta trying to get their foot on the ball and build something from the back.
Here we go! Celta get the ball rolling in Balaídos!
Ok, here come the teams, the sun is shining in Galicia and we're about ready to get going!
Just five minutes to go until kick-off in Balaídos...
Thibaut Courtois retains his place as Zidane's number one this season. Will the Belgian live up to the responsibility? He conceded 36 in 27 Liga games last season, keeping just eight clean sheets.
This fixture finished up 4-2 last season, with Benzema, Ramos, Ceballos and a Cabral own goal doing the job for the visotrs.
Blimey, we've just remembered where Celta finished last season. 17th. Escribá will be looking to slap a fist on the table in Balaídos today...
Zidane doesn't appear too willing to shake things up in the opener... not one summer signing makes the starting XI. Ferland Mendy may have done, who knows, but the Frenchman is out injured.
Real Madrid have won 10 of their last 13 visits to Balaídos, with Celta winning twice and one draw.
But it's been quite the turnaround for Bale... completely ignored in pre-season, missed out on the opportunity to play in China, was publicly told it would be best for everyone if he jolly well did one, got in trouble for playing golf, and now he starts the first league match of the season and confines Lucas Vázquez to the bench.
Real Madrid have not lost the opening game of the season in 10 years - can Celta do "an Aduriz" and pull off a shock in Balaídos? Is beating Madrid even considered a shock these days?
And here's Celta's starting XI: Gabriel "El Toro" Fernández will join Aspas in attack - good luck with that Sergio Ramos - while summer signing Denis Suárez gets a start. Brais Méndez, who attracted plenty of interest in the summer, will pull the strings.
And here is Zidane's confirmed starting XI: Gareth Bale gets a start for Madrid with Benzema and Vinicius joining him in attack. Otherwise it's business as usual for the visitors other than the inclusion of Odriozola at right back for the suspended Dani Carvajal.
As ever, we've provided a handy guide as to how and where you can get hold of the game wherever in this big ol' world you may happen to be today.
Celta, meanwhile, will be eyeing an upset and have the firepower to cause Real notoriously leaky back line some serious trouble. Iago Aspas finished last season as the top national scorer in LaLiga, finishing one shy of the 21 goals Karim Benzema and Luis Suárez, in joint-second behind Leo Messi, managed.
James hasn't played for Real Madrid for over 800 days. It seems after the end of last season when Zidane put Bale on ice that the Welshman has been out for almost as long. Will either make the cut today?
Both James and Bale have been included in the squad for today's game, but Zidane needs to trim his list from 22 to 19 before the game. It will be very interesting to see who doesn't make the cut.
It hasn't been the easiest of pre-seasons for Madrid, with Zinedine Zidane's lurching from one disjointed game to another - a 7-3 thrashing by Atlético the nadir of their annual jolly to the US - while in the background the club have tried and failed to shift gareth Bale and James Rodríguez off the books. Zidane has now decided he's delighted to have both on board for the season, but his team selection today will probably tell a different story.
Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of the Liga fixture between Celta Vigo and Real Madrid fom Balaídos. Kick-off is at 17:00 CEST.
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