Real Madrid celebrate scoring against Almeria. | Carlos Barba


Rayo Vallecano spoiled Robert Lewandowski's Barcelona debut as they held the Spanish giants for a disappointing goalless draw in front of their home crowd.

It was the first time in the eight seasons that the Bundesliga's second-highest all-time scorer behind the late Gerd Mueller didn't score in a season debut.

Against Rayo Vallecano, Lewandowski struggled against Rayo's five-man defence who did a superb job in shackling the twice FIFA Best Player of the Year winner.

The Polish striker, who will turn 34 this month, barely touched the ball the entire game as Xavi Hernandez Barca showed some of the same problems of last season, lacking aim and effectiveness despite controlling most of the possession.
It was a far from ideal season debut for Barcelona, who were Europe's biggest spenders in the close season as they splashed out around 150 million euros trying to end their three-year LaLiga title drought.

When Real Madrid signed Japanese teenage sensation Takefusa Kubo from FC Tokyo in 2019, the 18-year-old stood out during their U.S. summer tour, fanning expectations around the electrifying striker.
But Kubo could never find his way with Real and was too valuable to stay at their academy, so he was loaned for three consecutive seasons, playing for Getafe, Villarreal and Mallorca.

Earlier in the summer, Real Sociedad decided to bet on Kubo and acquired 50% of his rights from Real Madrid for some 6.5 million euros and the Japanese delivered in his debut, scoring the winner in their 1-0 victory at Cadiz.

Kubo was a constant threat to Cadiz defence and linked up well with Swedish forward Alexander Isak, adding an extra gear to the high-paced Imanol Alguacil system who are aiming high after a top-6 finish last season.

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti started the season with several rotations to his starting 11 and his gamble almost backfired with his team forced to fight back to beat newly promoted Almeria 2-1, leaving questions about the depth of group.

Ancelotti went through an evening of high nerves as Almeria defended in numbers and constantly threatened Real with counter attacks.

It wasn't until he sent on veterans Luka Modric, Eden Hazard and David Alaba from the bench that Real managed to recover.

New signings Aurelien Tchouameni and Antonio Rudiger struggled in coverage and left a catalogue of errors trying to defend against their rival's speedy strikers.

"Sometimes, Real Madrid shirt is a heavy burden, but they need to play to feel it and to progress. It's a process," Ancelotti said.