Real Madrid fell to a shock 0-2 defeat at home to Real Sociedad on Sunday as Santiago Solari's side continue to struggle through a tough start to the New Year.
Madrid got off to the worst possible start after Casemiro fouled Mikel Merino in the home side's box just three minutes in. The referee pointed straight to the spot, and Sociedad striker Willian Jose made no mistake in thumping the resulting penalty high into Thibaut Courtois' net.
Karim Benzema spurned a glorious chance to provide a quick response for Los Blancos just six minutes later. The ball broke for the Frenchman as he was clean in on goal, but the striker fired his effort wide of the far post.
Both sides had plenty of chances early in the second half, though neither side could capitalise. Geronimo Rulli made a succession of saves from a flurry of close-range Real Madrid shots, including one from Vinicius Junior, just two minutes into the half. Adnan Januzaj also spurned a presentable opening for the visitors in the 53rd minute.
The home side had a seemingly clear penalty appeal waved away midway through the second half, whilst former Manchester United star Januzaj failed to convert two further big chances for Sociedad.
Lucas Vazquez was sent off on the hour mark for a second yellow card. After being booked in the first half for a reckless challenge, the Spaniard repeated the mistake with a poor challenge from behind to see a second yellow and leave Madrid with a mountain to climb.
Substitute Ruben Pardo sealed the stunning victory for Sociedad with a clinical header, converting a floated cross from Willian Jose on the 83rd minute to condemn Madrid to another disappointing result.
Key Talking Point
With the days of Cristiano Ronaldo's goal -coring heroics long gone from the Bernabeu and Gareth Bale absent from the side, Real Madrid simply lack any cutting edge in their front line to capitalise on their dominance in possession.
With Luka Modric and Toni Kroos remaining as the maestros in the engine room, Los Blancos maintain their usual ability to control a game from the middle of the park and play forward at will. Madrid had 66.9% possession and 10 shots to Sociedad's one in the first half, but still went in 0-1 down at the interval.
Without a top-quality forward to get on the end of their attacking moves, Solari's side are completely devoid of the required killer instinct to put the opposition to the sword as top sides should.
Mikel Merino & Adnan Januzaj destroying Real Madrid — Taulant5 (@taulantg4shi) January 6, 2019
Starting XI: Courtois (4); Carvajal (4), Varane (5), Ramos (5), Marcelo (6); Kroos (6), Casemiro (5), Modric (6); Vazquez (4), Benzema (5), V. Junior (7)
Substitutes: Isco (5), Rodriguez (5), Ceballos (N/A)
STAR MAN - Making his first league start for Los Blancos, Vinicius Junior proved that he is capable of becoming the missing star in Real Madrid's attack. The Brazilian was lively throughout, cutting inside from the home side's left wing at will and causing Sociedad problems every time he received the ball. Still only 18, Vinicius lacks the end product in his game at present, but his direct attacking style could make him a natural successor to Ronaldo.
Vinícius Júnior is the first player to start a La Liga game for Real Madrid born in 2000 or later.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 6, 2019
Rewarded for his efforts at the Club World Cup. pic.twitter.com/gLQ4tnhdrO
WORST PLAYER - Lucas Vazquez epitomised Madrid's lack of quality in attack, offering very little quality from Madrid's right flank, whilst the winger was equally careless in being sent off for two yellow card offences either side of half time. The Spaniard's dismissal left Madrid with too much work to do at 0-1 down.
Starting XI: Rulli (6); Elustondo (6), Llorente (6), Moreno (7), Munoz (6); Illarramendi (7), Zurutuza (7); Januzaj (7), Merino (8), Oyarzabal (7); Jose (8)
Real Madrid 0-1 Real Sociedad— Goal (@goal) January 6, 2019
⚽️ Willian Jose pic.twitter.com/NyapKqUHUI
Substitutes: Zaldua (6), Pardo (7), Zubeldia (N/A)
Real Madrid take on Leganes at the Bernabeu in the first leg of their Copa del Rey round of 16 clash on Wednesday.
Los Blancos then return to La Liga action next Sunday as Solari's side travel to face Real Betis at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.