Rafa Benitez begun his Real Madrid tenure is disappointing fashion as Los Blancos were held to a goalless draw at La Liga newcomers Sporting Gijon.
The Whites had plenty of possession throughout the game but failed to make their dominance felt as their attacking unit remained strangely out of sorts. The home side indeed could have had all three points on another day, with Antonio Sanabria hitting the bar with a header 10 minutes before the interval.
There was a new look to the Real line up for the opening fixture, with Benitez opting for a 4-2-3-1 system instead of Carlo Ancelotti’s 4-3-3 preference. Jese Rodriguez started up front in the absence of Karim Benzema, with Isco, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo deployed behind him.
The visitors began the game the strongest and had plenty of chances to open the scoring. Jese just failed to make contact with a Ronaldo cross while Bale could only find the side netting after rounding goalkeeper Pichu Cuellar. Isco also went close with a dipping long range effort.
But Sporting gradually grew in confidence and while they managed to nullify the Real attack, they carved out a few openings of their own.
In the second period, Benitez introduced James Rodirguez but he would have little impact on the game. New signing Mateo Kovacic made an appearance for 20 minutes and showed in glimpses that he has the potential to be a good player in the side.
But overall it was a frustrating night and a poor start for Real and Benitez has plenty of thinking to do about where the goals will come from.