Vinicius and Mariano scored Real Madrid's last victory at the Santiago Bernabéu. It was against Barça. It was in March 2020. It was almost in another lifetime. It was 560 days later. A pandemic. A League. Matches at Valdebebas. The departure of Ramos. Zidane left. And work began on converting the historic stadium into the most modern in Europe, right in the middle of the Paseo de la Castellana.
The public returned to see Real Madrid live. The irrational rules of the Government only allowed 60% capacity in the stadiums of Spain while in England the fans return en masse and the contagions are controlled. The club set a capacity of 20,000 spectators because with the construction work there is less capacity. Just over 19,000 turned up, among them the workers who are working every day to build a mega-construction that Real Madrid wants to open in December 2023.
Lorenzo Sanz was the protagonist in the lead-up to the match. Florentino Pérez wanted to pay tribute to his predecessor in the post with a tribute on a par with the great president who took Real Madrid into the 21st century. Casillas, Guti, Hierro, Salgado, Mijatovic, Arlaukas and Antúnez were there with all the trophies he won during his mandate. The Sanz family also thanked the Madrid fans for their support since 21 March 2020 when, in the midst of the pandemic and health chaos, the former president of La Séptima died of covid-19. After the tribute, the Bernabéu's public address system remembered the former players who had died in the last year one by one and had words for the members who are no longer with us. A return full of emotions that made those present take a deep breath as they looked back and remembered how it all happened. They could still see the sunset in the Madrid sky between the trusses of the skeleton of the new Bernabéu rising above their heads.
Football. That was what those present wanted to see to honour those who had left. A new coach and Camavinga was the little they could look forward to after the failure to sign Mbappé. The line-up did not convince the crowd. Valverde and Casemiro arrived on Friday afternoon and the FIFA virus had exhausted them. On the pitch, they didn't look out of place, but they were unable to follow the play. The hole that was beginning to form in midfield went right through the defence. Militao, Nacho, Miguel Gutiérrez and Carvajal to make Ramos and Varane forget. It wasn't the best night to return the Bernabéu. Leadership at the back was lacking. Alaba's injury forced Ancelotti to put in a centre-back pairing with little flying time and it showed. Miguel Gutiérrez is another of the diamonds of the white youth system. A player trained in midfield and even as a second striker, he has an amazing ability to move around the pitch. But with shortcomings in defensive withdrawal that led him to give away the ball for the first goal. In addition, Celta have good attacking firepower up front with Aspas and Mina.
Manolo Sanchís says that Madrid's defenders play with a machine gun. When they signed a centre-back and he asked how it was possible for them to defend so crazily, the '5' of Real Madrid replied that they often had to pray. This is how Real Madrid's defence has been historically. Attacking was in the DNA and defending was the necessary evil. Celta came to the Bernabeu to play their lively, direct attacking football and that hurt the Real defence a lot. Benzema made it 1-1 and Mina made it 1-2. The midfield was suffering and Modric was getting his balls out and defending those of Casemiro and Valdeverde. The Croatian's level of play in the history of the team is close to that of Zidane and that's saying a lot.
In the second half Real Madrid continued unleashed in the mind-blowing maelstrom that the two teams turned the match into to the delight of the crowd. Benzema scored the 2-2 and took control of the goal because Jovic was not expected and Bale had other priorities. Vinicius stretched that 2020 match against Barcelona. If that day he ran up and down the flank and left the blaugranas players sitting down, against Celta he was a knife on the left flank. He scored the 3-2 in a one-on-one that almost cost him his future in white and celebrated by jumping over the fence and hugging the crowd. A definitive gesture to get back to normality. Perhaps excessive, the pandemic purists will say, but necessary.
Celta did not give up because they knew that there were four teams there. Two attacking and two defending with no one else in between. Nolito had a good chance, but Modric entered through the highway opened up by the Celta defenders, hit it with the outside of his right foot in his typical strike and Camavinga collected the rebound from Dituro to score his first goal in a Real Madrid shirt. The Frenchman left some interesting details, but, at 18, he has a long way to go. Benzema scored the penalty in the 5-2 win over Vinicius.
Real Madrid scored on their return to the Bernabeu. Football took a back seat, but the win was worth three points and they couldn't let them slip away. Ancelotti didn't like the first few minutes of the game and has a lot to adjust to face the rest of the season with guarantees. For the moment, Inter in the Champions League and Valencia in La Liga. Five goals, 500 days and many memories in memory of those who left.