After the positives of the midweek victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, Real Madrid were expected to steamroll the newly-promoted side.
However, Real Madrid could hardly have wished for a worse start to the defence of their domestic crown as Almeria broke the deadlock within six minutes.
Inigo Eguaras provided a perfect defence-splitting pass through the middle towards Largie Ramazani, who was able to stun Real Madrid with a side-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net.
It was a goal which knocked the visitors, who simply didn’t expect to be behind so early, especially after such a positive pre-season which culminated in an easy victory over Eintracht in the UEFA Super Cup.
The reigning La Liga champions began the defence of their title by coming from behind to beat Almeria. Lucas Vazquez goal and a brilliant David Alaba free-kick were enough to overturn a 1-0 deficit and seal all three points for Ancelotti’s side in the opener. It would be an uphill task from early on, after Ramazani beat Thibaut Courtois in a one-on-one with just six minutes gone. From then on, the chances began to flow for Real Madrid, the first coming on 10’ when Vini Jr. crossed from the left and Karim Benzema shot over from inside the six-yard box. Six minutes later, Fede Valverde’s fierce drive from the edge of the area was well repelled by the fists of Fernando.
Ancelotti’s Real Madrid continued to look dangerous in and around the opposition box and there was chaos when Toni Kroos whipped in a corner with 20 minutes gone but Benzema’s effort was blocked by Babic. The same duo were at it again eight minutes later, Kroos floating in an inch-perfect cross which was met by a powerful Benzema header, but the hosts’ inspired goalkeeper was on hand to keep the Frenchman at bay once again. Fernando’s impressive performance continued as he saved his team on another couple of occasions, first when Vini Jr. raced in behind and second, by containing a Rudiger header from Kroos’ corner. On the stroke of half-time, Lucas Vazquez had the ball in the back of the net but saw his strike ruled out for off-side.
Real Madrid made a real statement of intent after the restart, with a Vini Jr. cross-shot on 47’ flying past Fernando, only to crash against the frame of the goal. Five minutes later, Benzema picked out Valverde with a cross and the Uruguayan’s effort was gathered in by the goalkeeper. It seemed as if it was only a matter of time before Madrid would level terms and Benzema again came close on 55’ after being teed up by a fine pass from Vini Jr., but Fernando was once again equal to a thumping left-footed shot by the Frenchman from inside the box.
The pressure created by Carlo Ancelotti’s side would soon pay off though as Lucas Vazquez scored a goal that counted just after the hour.
Benzema produced a clever drag back, passing the ball towards Vazquez at the back post and he couldn’t avoid tapping the ball into the net.
The contest was now all square and the reigning La Liga champions had half an hour on the clock to secure the spoils and they did just that with a tremendous strike. David Alaba, who had only just entered the fray, unleashed a blockbuster of a left-footed strike from the edge of the area. The visitors had completed the comeback and saw out the rest of the game courtesy of some sound game management to claim the first three points of the campaign.
After the match Real Madrid Carlo Ancelotti said,”We expected to have to dig in here, even more so when we made life difficult for ourselves with a defensive error we could have avoided. We struggled from then on. They defended very well, we had a lot of shots on goal and once the first one went in, things got easier.”