Real Madrid saw their perfect start in LaLiga halted by 10-man Osasuna on Sunday, as Karim Benzema missed a late penalty on his return from injury in a dramatic 1-1 draw.

Injuries to Luka Modric and Thibaut Courtois left Madrid depleted at the Santiago Bernabeu, but they took the lead in fortunate fashion when Vinicius Junior's cross beat Sergio Herrera.

Courtois' replacement Andriy Lunin was caught out by Kike Garcia's header as Osasuna equalised shortly after half-time, but the hosts were awarded a penalty when David Garcia pushed Benzema, earning himself a red card.

However, Benzema hammered his spot-kick against the crossbar as Osasuna clung on, ending Madrid's 100 per cent record in LaLiga this season.

Osasuna gave as good as they got during a frantic opening, twice going close through tricky winger Abde Ezzalzouli on the break.

Benzema almost opened the scoring in spectacular fashion from Vinicius' cross after 37 minutes, clipping the left-hand post with an acrobatic volley, but Madrid did not have to wait long for their opener.

Vinicius' in-swinging cross evaded Benzema before nestling in the bottom-right corner after 41 minutes, with a VAR review awarding the goal after ruling Benzema was not interfering with play from an offside position.

Osasuna needed just five minutes to level after the break, however, as Kike's glancing header looped beyond Lunin to find the top-left corner, stunning the Bernabeu into silence.

Just as Madrid appeared to be running out of ideas, Garcia's clumsy foul on Benzema saw the defender dismissed and handed the France striker the chance to win the match with 11 minutes left.

However, the Ballon d'Or favourite stuck the bar with a poor effort before heading Rodrygo Goes' stoppage-time cross wide as Osasuna held on.

Rio Ferdinand called on football federations to take more action against racism after a banana was thrown at Richarlison during Brazil's 5-1 friendly victory over Tunisia on Tuesday.

A banana appeared to land near Richarlison as the Tottenham forward celebrated scoring Brazil's second goal near the corner flag at Parc des Princes in Paris.

The incident comes after Vinicius Junior, Richarlison's international team-mate, was told by a Spanish agent to "stop playing the monkey" in relation to his goal celebrations.

Richarlison himself received criticism last month when he started doing kick-ups late in Spurs' 2-0 away win at Nottingham Forest.

And former England international Ferdinand believes it is wrong that, in his view, Richarlison received as much condemnation for his showboating against Forest as Tuesday's incident with the banana has.

"You've got your own kids waking up and saying: 'Dad, have you seen that banana thrown on the pitch at Richarlison?' It's madness," Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube channel.

"There was probably as much vitriol and hysteria on social media and in the media in general as there were with this banana incident, racism incident, as there was when Richarlison was doing kick-ups."

The Manchester United legend also believes more should be done by footballing powers, adding: "I'm not saying football can change or cure racism because I would be an idiot to think that.

"Football can play a good part in highlighting issues and standing together, standing strong and standing unified to make the authorities and powers that be put things in place to protect people, but it ain't happening. It's disheartening.

"Another day racism is okay and welcomed in football. Look at the reaction to the stuff with Vinicius Jr. I don't see the federations coming out and absolutely backing these players and going absolutely against it or a big press conference being called and saying 'we ain't having this'."

LaLiga has condemned the racist abuse of Vinicius Junior by Atletico Madrid fans before Sunday's derby clash at the Civitas Metropolitano.

Real Madrid won the contest 2-1 thanks to goals from Rodrygo and Federico Valverde, with Mario Hermoso's late shouldered effort nothing more than a consolation.

That ensured Madrid went into the international break top of the table with six wins from as many games, but the match was marred by the actions of some Atletico fans.

A large group were videoed singing racist chants about Vinicius just outside the stadium before the game. The Brazilian had attracted much of the pre-game focus in the wake of Spanish football agent Pedro Bravo telling him to "stop playing the monkey" on TV show El Chiringuito in relation to his tendency to dance when celebrating a goal.

Bravo apologised and insisted it was not his intention to offend.

During Sunday's game, there were also reports of racist chanting occurring inside the stadium, though the vile pre-game scenes had already become the focus thanks to the widespread sharing of videos on social media.

In a widely reported statement, a LaLiga spokesperson said: "We denounce all incidents inside and outside stadiums. We work with clubs to keep our football friendly and enjoyable.

"Hate speech has no place in La Liga and we always work with the clubs and the authorities to identify and bring to justice any such case."

Atletico supporters also threw objects on to the pitch as Vinicius and Rodrygo danced while celebrating Madrid's opening goal.

Rodrygo considers Karim Benzema "impossible to replace", but the Brazilian is nevertheless giving his all to fill in for the injured Real Madrid striker.

Madrid's opener came from Rodrygo in their 2-1 derby triumph at Atletico Madrid on Sunday, as Carlo Ancelotti's side kept up their 100 per cent record in LaLiga to top the table heading into the international break.

The Brazil international combined excellently with Aurelien Tchouameni to slot home in the 18th minute, before Federico Valverde made it 2-0 prior to the break.

Atleti fought back through Mario Hermoso's late goal, but it was not enough to inspire a full comeback – with the hosts' scorer subsequently sent off after picking up two bookings in as many minutes.

While captain Benzema is set to return after the international break, Ancelotti has been able to rely on Rodrygo to lead Madrid's line in the France frontman's absence, with the 21-year-old contributing to five goals in his last four LaLiga appearances.

Asked in a post-match interview with Movistar+ how difficult it was to replace Benzema, Rodrygo said: "I've always had confidence, but last season I scored more goals at the end [of the campaign] and now I have scored them at the beginning as well.

"I'm coming off a very good season and I want to continue like this, because I [can get] even better.

"It's impossible to replace Benzema, but I try and I think I'm doing well. I have to say that I do things differently to him, we have changed the style of play."

Defender Dani Carvajal, meanwhile, said Rodrygo had given Madrid "wings in attack", even if Benzema was "fundamental" to Los Blancos.

Madrid have won all nine of their matches this season in all competitions, and they are the only side in Europe's top five leagues with a perfect record.

It marks the third time Madrid have won their first nine games in a single campaign after 1961-62 and 1968-69, when they won their opening 11 games in both campaigns.

"We are very happy. We started the season at 100 per cent, winning everything," Rodrygo said. "We are going into the break wanting to rest, play with our national teams and come back better."

Rodrygo celebrated his opener with compatriot Vinicius Junior, who in the wake of being crudely told to "stop playing the monkey" by a football agent in midweek, was the target of racist chanting from some Atleti supporters outside the Civitas Metropolitano prior to kick-off.

"It's a pleasure to play with him, something very special, without a doubt," said Rodrygo of his team-mate, who played a key role in Valverde's goal, hitting the post after a brilliant run, which enabled the midfielder to tuck home on the rebound.

The match was not without its contentious moments, with Hermoso's second yellow particularly harsh. Having previously been booked for dissent, the centre-back was adjudged to have lashed out at Dani Ceballos, though replays showed it was a questionable decision.

"Very bad taste, we have lost a very important match. We have not been so bad, we have not deserved the defeat, but it is football," Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak told Movistar+.

On Hermoso's red card, Oblak said: "I've seen the video. The referee was very close and I don't know what he saw, but it's his decision and on video it's easier than [live], it's true.

"It didn't have to be yellow, there were still three minutes left and we could have taken advantage."

It's not often Real Madrid get painted as the good guys, but Sunday's derby clash with Atletico was one of those few occasions.

As Carlo Ancelotti's Los Blancos left the Civitas Metropolitano with a 2-1 win, there was little doubt that they were the better side on the day.

But, strangely for a fixture of such magnitude, the actual football was sadly almost a sideshow as Spanish football's racism problem reared its head once again.

Through no fault of his own, Vinicius Junior had been the chief focus in the build-up after Pedro Bravo, an agent who appears on Spanish football show El Chiringuito, made a racially insensitive comment while on TV.

Referencing Vinicius' harmless tendency to celebrate goals with a little dance, Bravo suggested the Brazilian should "respect your mates and stop playing the monkey", comments that unsurprisingly drew criticism from all over the football world.

It was heart-warming to see how many people rallied around Vinicius in the wake of Bravo's ridiculous outburst. Many of his international team-mates and Brazil great Pele issued messages of support urging him to dance on.

Vinicius himself made a statement vowing to keep dancing, and Arsenal star Gabriel Jesus dedicated a similar celebration to his colleague earlier on Sunday.

That should have been the end of all the pointless debating about whether the celebration is disrespectful or not (it clearly isn't), but unfortunately it wasn't.

As Atletico 'ultras' queued on their way into the stadium before kick-off, offensive chants targeting Vinicius were being sung by hundreds of fans. Not a few, hundreds, and video footage brought the scenes to attention on social media.

What makes those chants even more disappointing is that few would've been hugely surprised. Atletico ultras have a history of disgracing their club. In 2018, 30 of them were apprehended in Bruges for making Nazi gestures, according to Marca; and as recently as April, they were hit with a partial stadium closure in the Champions League due to similar behaviour from fans against Manchester City.

Ultra group Frente Atletico were banned from the club's old stadium the Vicente Calderon in 2014 after clashes with Deportivo La Coruna fans led to the death of 'Jimmy', a member of the latter's Riazor Blues, who was attacked and thrown into the Manzanares river.

Despite that ban, the group's attitudes were never completely banished, and Sunday's pre-match scenes were a grim reminder of Atletico's failure as a club to stamp out far-right ideologies within its fanbase.

Thankfully, though, Vinicius is a brave young man who wasn't about to suppress his personality and mentality to appease some Neanderthals.

As the pre-game chants foreshadowed, Vinicius' first touch was vociferously jeered by Atletico fans. But the Brazilian amusingly responded with the most extravagant six-yard pass he could think of, dragging the ball back with his right foot before flicking it back down the flank to Ferland Mendy with his left all in one motion. Essentially, it was as close to dancing as he could've got in that moment.

It wasn't long before he was dancing for real, though. Vinicius wasn't even involved in the goal, as Rodrygo produced an emphatic finish from Aurelien Tchouameni's gorgeous pass – the scorer then darted towards the corner flag and began to strut his stuff.

Vinicius was quickly on the scene, gyrating with extra exuberance as Atletico fans threw objects on to the pitch around the celebrating Madrid players, most of whom embraced the former Flamengo talent with greater vigour than they did Rodrygo.

There was no mistaking Vinicius' influence just after the half-hour mark, however. The winger left Marcos Llorente in his dust and darted into the left side of the penalty area before prodding an effort goalwards. It fell kindly to Federico Valverde, who smashed in from close range.

Atletico players dished out rough treatment to Vinicius, perhaps as you might have expected as their biggest attacking threat in the absence of Karim Benzema, though he continued to play his natural game, toying with Llorente on several occasions and even attempting an audacious rainbow flick over Axel Witsel, which certainly angered the home support.

In the end he never quite got the moment of personal jubilation many might've hoped he'd have, with Atletico spending much of the second half on top as they tried to produce a comeback.

But Mario Hermoso's shouldered late goal proved only a consolation as Atletico failed to rise to the occasion, with Madrid holding firm enough to continue the excellent start to their title defence.

The action, and even the result, won't be the post-match focus, however. The vile scenes from earlier in the day will be what this match is remembered for – Atletico's response to that is far more important than how they ultimately react to this defeat.

Atletico Madrid fans targeted Vinicius Junior with offensive chants before Sunday's clash against rivals Real Madrid and threw objects on to the pitch as he celebrated Rodrygo's opening goal.

Much of the pre-match focus was on Vinicius after agent Pedro Bravo made a racially insensitive comment on football TV show El Chiringuito.

Bravo said Vinicius should "stop playing the monkey" in reference to the Brazil international's tendency to dance when celebrating a goal.

Many of the sport's biggest names rallied behind Vinicius, with Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus even dedicating a similar celebration to his international team-mate earlier on Sunday.

Despite so many messages of support, a group of Atletico fans disgraced themselves as they queued to enter the Civitas Metropolitano, singing offensive chants that Vinicius was the subject of.

Vinicius and Rodrygo then celebrated with a dance as the latter opened the scoring, and several objects were subsequently thrown in their direction from the stands.

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has pledged his support to Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior ahead of the blockbuster derby at Wanda Metropolitano.

The Brazil international was subjected to comments with apparent racist connotations by Spanish football agent Pedro Bravo.

Commenting on Vinicius' dancing goal celebrations, Bravo told El Chiringuito: "You have to respect your opponents. When you score a goal, if you want to dance Samba, you should go to [the] Sambadrome in Brazil. You have to respect your mates and stop playing the monkey."

The remark subsequently drew widespread criticism, with compatriots Pele and Neymar leaping to Vinicius' defence, while Newcastle United midfielder Bruno Guimaraes suggested Bravo should be arrested.

Speaking ahead of the Madrid derby, Los Rojiblancos president Cerezo has also offered his support to the 22-year-old, while urging a collective show of "respect". 

"I'm going to ask Vinicius to teach me how to dance samba for when I have to go to Brazil in the next festivals in Rio!" he joked to Marca.

"What we have to do is make sure that if Vinicius does score any goal today and if he wants to celebrate it, he celebrates it in a correct way and with respect for all the public in front of him.

"The players manifest themselves as they want, the only thing there has to be is respect for the people who are on a field that is not theirs."

Los Blancos will bid to maintain their perfect start to the 2022-23 season, having won all eight of their matches across all competitions so far.

Meanwhile, Atletico are aiming to bounce back after their 2-0 defeat by Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior insisted he "will not stop dancing" after comments with apparent racist connotations from Spanish football agent Pedro Bravo.

Bravo commented on Vinicius' dancing goal celebrations this week, telling El Chiringuito: "You have to respect your opponents. When you score a goal, if you want to dance Samba, you should go to [the] Sambadrome in Brazil. You have to respect your mates and stop playing the monkey."

The remark drew much criticism, with fellow Brazil internationals Neymar and Bruno Guimaraes leaping to Vinicius' defence, the latter saying Bravo should be "jailed".

Legendary forward Pele also denounced Bravo's comments, writing on Instagram: "Football is joy. It's a dance. It's more than that. It's a real party.

"Although, unfortunately, racism still exists, we will not allow that to stop us from continuing to smile. And we will continue to fight racism every day in this way: fighting for our right to be happy and respected."

Bravo later apologised on Twitter, saying he had "misused" the word.

Vinicius has now spoken out himself on the statement, saying in a video posted to his Instagram: "As long as the colour of the skin is more important than the brightness of the eyes, there will be war.

"They say that happiness bothers. The happiness of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe bothers much more. But my desire to win, my smile and the sparkle in my eyes are much bigger than that.

"I was a victim of xenophobia and racism in a single statement. They are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it. I'm not going to stop.

"I always try to be a professional and an exemplary citizen. But that doesn't click, it's not trending on the internet, nor does it motivate cowards to talk aggressively about people they don't even know.

"The script always ends with an apology and 'I've been misunderstood.' But I repeat it for you, racist: I will not stop dancing. Whether at the Sambadrome, at the Bernabeu or wherever."

Karim Benzema will have to sit out Sunday's derby, Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has announced.

The France international came off with a knee injury in Madrid's Champions League win at Celtic earlier this month and has not featured since.

Ancelotti previously said Benzema could be fit for the derby with Atletico Madrid this weekend, but also noted caution at the time by saying if he did not recover, he would also not be available for the upcoming international break.

With Benzema absent from Didier Deschamps' squad announcement for Les Bleus this week, it seemed unlikely he would feature at the Wanda Metropolitano, which Ancelotti confirmed at his press conference on Saturday, saying: "I'm not saying [who will play up front], Benzema won't be there.

"He has started working individually and will be ready after the [international] break."

Ancelotti also spoke about the recent controversial comments from Pedro Bravo, a senior agent in Spain, on Vinicius Junior.

Bravo appeared on television show El Chiringuito earlier this week, saying Vinicius had to stop dancing when he celebrated a goal, accusing the Brazilian of "playing the monkey".

Bravo has apologised and said he used the wrong expression, insisting he was sorry for causing offence.

"It's something that we don't touch on in the locker room, these are issues that are not normally discussed in the locker room, we usually talk about football," the Madrid boss said.

"Racism is one thing and what happens in football is another thing. We have not touched on this issue of racism because the player has responded very well."

When asked if he had spoken to the player about it, Ancelotti said: "No, because I'm not his father, nor am I his brother. I'm his coach.

"Nothing is wrong with him. He is playing with joy. Vini is joy, happiness."

Madrid have won all eight of their games in all competitions this season and will come up against an Atletico side who suffered a Champions League defeat at Bayer Leverkusen in midweek.

Ancelotti is not underestimating Madrid's local rivals, though.

"It will be a competitive match. They don't expect anything new and it will be a very competitive duel, a good football match, because there are very good players on both teams," Ancelotti said. "The match is open, but there is nothing definitive."

Pele has joined Neymar in offering his support to Vinicius Junior, who was the subject of a comment with apparent racist undertones from a Spanish football agent.

Pedro Bravo, a chief agent in Spain, appeared on El Chiringuito this week, and said Real Madrid forward Vinicius had to stop dancing when he celebrated a goal.

Bravo said: "You have to respect your opponents. When you score a goal, if you want to dance Samba, you should go to [the] Sambadrome in Brazil. You have to respect your mates and stop playing the monkey."

This comment has led to outrage from Vinicius' international team-mate Bruno Guimaraes, with the Newcastle United midfielder calling for Bravo to be "jailed".

Guimaraes tweeted on Friday: "This MORON needs to get out of there already arrested! There is no excuse! If the guy says that on live TV, imagine what he doesn't say when he's not. Incomprehensible if this guy is not jailed."

Neymar subsequently tagged Vinicius in his Instagram story, along with a photo of the Madrid star celebration and a caption that read: "Dribble, dance and be you! Happy just the way you are. Go for it my boy, next goal we dance!"

Vinicius replied with a photo of him dancing alongside Neymar and Guimaraes while playing for Brazil.

Pele then joined Neymar in offering support, with the legendary striker writing on Instagram: "Football is joy. It's a dance. It's more than that. It's a real party.

"Although, unfortunately, racism still exists, we will not allow that to stop us from continuing to smile. And we will continue to fight racism every day in this way: fighting for our right to be happy and respected."

Rodrygo declared Real Madrid's start to the new campaign "couldn't have been any better" after helping Los Blancos preserve their 100 per cent winning record in LaLiga.

The Brazil winger contributed a goal and an assist as Madrid rallied to beat Mallorca 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu, completing a comeback that began with Federico Valverde's extraordinary solo goal.

With five wins from as many matches in LaLiga, Madrid are the only team with a 100 per cent record in the big five European leagues this season.

This is only the second season this century in which Madrid have started with five league wins (also 2009-10).

Speaking to the club's website after Sunday's win, Rodrygo said: "Our start couldn't have been any better. 

"This is the fruit of our efforts. We have two tough games coming up now, we have to keep working and doing the right things because we have everything in place to enjoy a fantastic season."

Rodrygo's assist teed up Vinicius Junior to score in his fourth consecutive league appearance at the start of the season, and the former is enjoying linking up with his compatriot.

"Vini and I have a great understanding. We had to get a bit closer to each other," Rodrygo added.

"[Luka] Modric was threading balls between the lines, which is where the coach asked me to be for most of the game. I found space there, linked up with Vini, and the goal came. We just had to move closer.

"The gaffer asked me to attack the space, get in behind the defence. That was the only space you could find because they were very compact and it was so tough to link up on the inside. 

"We managed a few times, but it wasn't easy. Then eventually the goals came."

Tenacious midfielder Valverde was the catalyst for Madrid's comeback, driving forward from his own half before drilling a fabulous effort into the top-left corner to get the hosts on level terms.

However, rather than any individual plaudits, Valverde's main concern was picking up the three points.

"I'm delighted to have got the win. The goal was beautiful, but the important thing was to win. We've got that pride and daring to go after the game even if we're behind," Valverde said.

"I started running, I saw the red shirts and I tried to get round them so I could keep going. When I saw they were showing me inside, I took advantage of that and shot with my left. It was a team goal.

"I tried my luck often last season with my right and I would always hit the post or see it go just wide. 

"Now they're going in, and I'm really enjoying this spell. I try to make the most of my qualities, running with the ball is one of those. 

"When things come off, it's great. After the team has worked so hard, these things bring you real joy."

Madrid have claimed six points from losing positions in LaLiga already this season. Only Southampton and Milan (both seven) have picked up more across Europe's top five leagues this campaign.

Real Madrid returned to the LaLiga summit after coming from behind to beat Mallorca 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The hosts fell behind as the in-form Vedat Muriqi headed Mallorca into the lead, but Federico Valverde equalised before half-time with a marvellous individual effort.

Carlo Ancelotti's side completed the turnaround 18 minutes from time with Vinicius Junior finding the net for a fourth successive LaLiga game, before another impressive solo goal from Rodrygo and Antonio Rudiger's first strike for the club late on tied things up.

Los Blancos remain the only team in the big five European leagues to boast a 100 per cent record this season, having won their opening five league matches for the first time since 2009-10.

Mallorca had not won at Madrid since May 2009 but Muriqi sounded a warning for the visitors inside the opening minute.

Latching onto Martin Valjent's long ball, the striker cleverly escaped the advancing Antonio Rudiger before his powerful volley was beaten away by Thibaut Courtois. 

Dani Ceballos and Rodrygo tested Predrag Rajkovic at the other end, but Mallorca took a surprise lead in the 25th minute as an unmarked Muriqi headed home Lee Kang-In's free-kick for his third goal of the season.

Madrid equalised in emphatic fashion in first-half stoppage time; Valverde embarking on a wonderful run from deep inside his own half, before firing into the top corner from 20 yards.

Lucas Vazquez curled a 25-yard effort narrowly wide just after the hour mark before Mallorca squandered a glorious opportunity to regain the lead; substitute Antonio Sanchez shooting wide with only Courtois to beat.

It proved costly as Madrid edged their noses ahead in the 72nd minute. Rodrygo burst into the heart of the visitors' defence before feeding Vinicius, who neatly clipped the ball beyond the advancing Rajkovic.

Rodrygo then sealed the points with a minute remaining as he embarked on a strong, jinking run into the box, evading several challenges before slotting home, which was followed by Rudiger volleying home a Toni Kroos free-kick at the far post in stoppage time.

Captain Karim Benzema scored twice in a wild finish as Real Madrid won 3-1 at Espanyol to preserve their 100 per cent record after three games of the LaLiga season.

Vinicius Junior's tidy finish was cancelled out by a goal from Joselu, who has made a habit of scoring against Madrid since spending three years early in his career with the capital club's 'Castilla' B team.

Benzema had a goal ruled out after the break, while Joselu almost pinched another, before Benzema turned in a cross from Rodrygo to snatch the points. Espanyol goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte was sent off in stoppage time and Benzema added his second from the subsequent free-kick as the game ended chaotically.

The result means Madrid move level on nine points with Real Betis, the next opponents for Carlo Ancelotti's team and the only other side with a perfect record.

Vinicius fired Madrid into a 12th-minute lead, meeting a smart pass from Aurelien Tchouameni close to the penalty spot and tucking a first-time shot past Lecomte and into the bottom-left corner.

However, it was Espanyol who struck next, equalising in the 43rd minute. Joselu took Oscar Gil's throughball on board and scored at the second attempt after Courtois made an initial save, with the ball rebounding kindly off Eder Militao for the home striker.

Joselu was in the thick of the penalty-area drama again just before the hour mark when Courtois had to desperately push away his left-footed strike amid a scramble.

Lecomte repelled a 20-yard curling strike from Benzema at the other end, before Madrid's talisman and captain had a goal disallowed for offside after he prodded in a low ball from Toni Kroos.

As the game entered its closing stages, Benzema met Rodrygo's expertly crafted cross from the left, tucking in a close-range volley at the far post to thoroughly deflate the hosts.

There was still time for more drama, Lecomte red-carded in stoppage time after a wild attempted tackle on Dani Ceballos just outside the penalty area. Benzema fired the set-piece from 20 yards beyond stand-in goalkeeper Leandro Cabrera, the captain and defender not quite up to the job.

Real Madrid made it back-to-back wins to start their LaLiga title defence as goals from Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde sealed a 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo.

Carlo Ancelotti's side agreed a deal with Manchester United on Friday for the sale of midfielder Casemiro, but they scarcely missed the Brazilian enforcer in what was a dominant performance against Eduardo Coudet's men at Balaidos.

Benzema opened his league account for the season from the penalty spot early on, before Iago Aspas levelled with a spot-kick of his own midway through the first half.

Modric gave Madrid the lead again with a wonderful strike shortly before half-time, while Vinicius and Valverde were on target in the second half as Los Blancos, who missed a late penalty through Eden Hazard, wrapped up maximum points with the minimum of fuss.

Madrid went ahead in the 14th minute through Benzema's penalty after David Alaba's shot had crashed into the arm of Renato Tapia, the spot-kick given after a lengthy pitchside review from referee Jesus Gil Manzano.

Celta levelled with a penalty of their own in the 23rd minute, Aspas powerfully striking past Thibaut Courtois from 12 yards after Goncalo Paciencia's header was blocked by the arm of Eder Militao.

Los Blancos restored their lead three minutes before the interval, however, when Modric jinked his way to the edge of the area and whipped a sumptuous strike into Agustin Marchesin's top-left corner.

Modric was key to Madrid's third goal as well, the midfielder threading a fine ball through for Vinicius, who rounded Marchesin and slotted into an empty net in the 56th minute.

Valverde then added a fourth 10 minutes later with a clinical finish from 15 yards following a flowing counter-attacking move, before substitute Hazard saw his spot-kick saved by Marchesin after Benzema had been fouled by Hugo Mallo.

What does it mean? Madrid extend run over sorry Celta

Celta had failed to win any of their previous 16 games against Real Madrid in LaLiga (D2 L14), and it was not hard to see why as a dominant Madrid stretched that run to 17.

Despite the loss of Casemiro, Los Blancos look in rude health for the 2022-23 season. This victory meant they have won their opening two LaLiga games in a season for the first time since 2018-19 under Julen Lopetegui.

Masterful Modric

Modric certainly did not seem to suffer from Casemiro's absence. The Croatia international restored Madrid's lead with a wonderful strike – his 18th from outside the penalty area for the club – before setting up Vinicius' goal with a typically incisive pass.

Benzema punishes Celta again

Benzema's early strike from the spot means he has now been involved in an incredible 10 goals in his past four LaLiga games against Celta (eight goals and two assists), including two braces and one hat-trick. They will be glad to see the back of him for a few months at least.

What's next?

Celta are away at Girona on Friday, while Madrid travel to Espanyol two days later – their third consecutive away game to start the season.

The 2022-23 season is right around the corner, with plenty to keep an eye on across Europe.

Title battles in England, Spain and Italy could be too close to call, while France and Germany will see rivals trying to knock Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich off their respective perches – while there is even more set to occur in the fight for European qualification and to avoid the drop.

Central to these battles will be the players, both new signings and established members of the old guard, and here are 10 to watch in the year ahead.

 

Ousmane Dembele – Barcelona

Previously considered to be one of the biggest pieces of evidence on Barcelona's transfer failings in recent years, Dembele turned a corner in the second half of last season to finish the campaign as one of Xavi's most important players.

Dembele finished with 13 assists in LaLiga last term, the most in the competition, 11 of which came in the final 15 games of the season – with the tally being more in that run from February than he accumulated across all competitions combined in the previous two seasons.

Handed a fresh new contract, all eyes will be on Dembele to see whether he is back to his best or whether the former Borussia Dortmund winger, who now has Raphinha for competition, merely had a purple patch.

 

Matthijs de Ligt – Bayern Munich

It has now been three years since De Ligt shone with the Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals, where his performances made him one of the most coveted players in world football.

Stability was never quite found at Juventus, however, with shoulder injuries hampering his progress and the defender himself admitting the style was a "bit different" in Turin to what he experienced with Ajax.

Now at Bayern, De Ligt will look to return to the heights he was once at and is expected to form an exciting partnership with Dayot Upamecano.

Rafael Leao – Milan

In Milan's title-winning campaign last term, Leao was the team's joint-leading scorer in Serie A with 11 goals, alongside Olivier Giroud, but that was way off the pace in the overall charts as 15 players found the net more times.

Milan's total tally for goals in 2021-22 was 69, less than three of their rivals in the top five, and pressure is on Stefano Pioli's side to improve that return – with the signing of Divock Origi showing the desire to improve their return in the final third, with rivals Inter having strengthened by bringing Romelu Lukaku back to San Siro on loan.

It may all fall upon Leao, however, with the 23-year-old needing to show consistency in order to prove a significant venture into the market next year to replace veterans Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not required.

 

Djed Spence – Tottenham

Middlesbrough will likely wonder what might had been if they retained Spence's services, having loaned him to Championship rivals Nottingham Forest and seeing him play a key part in their promotion back to the big time.

From September, the only two games Spence missed during Forest's league campaign were the two clashes with his parent club and his displays, including those in the FA Cup against the likes of Arsenal, made him hot property.

Spurs ultimately signed the England U21 international, who could be a contender to break into Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad if he quickly finds his feet in north London. He is a right-back, after all...

Darwin Nunez – Liverpool

Liverpool's prowess in the transfer market is facing its biggest test under Jurgen Klopp, who is looking to rejuvenate what has been a brilliant attacking trio with Sadio Mane moving on and Roberto Firmino's future uncertain.

Having signed Luis Diaz in January, the Reds raided a Portuguese giant again – this time Benfica – for Nunez.

Nunez scored six Champions League goals in the 2021-22 season and plundered a further 26 in the league, averaging a goal every 76 minutes. Nunez certainly has the capability to fill Klopp's Mane-shaped void, even if his style is slightly different to the Senegal attacker.

 

Matteo Guendouzi – Marseille

Swiftly breaking onto the scene at Arsenal but just as quickly earning himself a bad-boy reputation, Guendouzi flourished in his loan spell with Marseille last season and has now made the switch permanent.

The France international featured in every game for Marseille in the 2021-22 season, starting in 35 of his 38 Ligue 1 appearances, and forced his way back into contention to make Didier Deschamps' squad on a regular basis ahead of Les Bleus' World Cup defence in Qatar.

Guendouzi's growing maturity saw him captain Marseille in a 2-0 defeat against Lille last season and the forthcoming campaign may continue his redemption arc.

Adam Hlozek – Bayer Leverkusen

A name that will be familiar to Football Manager enthusiasts, Hlozek has earned his big move to one of Europe's top leagues after leaving Sparta Prague in his homeland for Bayer Leverkusen and the challenges of the Bundesliga.

Capable of playing across the front line, Hlozek heads to Germany with a stellar record of 29 goals and 30 assists in 91 league appearances in the top-tier in the Czech Republic.

Add in the 24 goals that compatriot Patrik Schick netted for Leverkusen last season along with the creativity of Florian Wirtz from midfield and the result is one that could be extremely exciting.

Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid

A formidable season for Vinicius saw the Brazilian net 17 goals and contribute 10 assists during Real Madrid's La Liga title-winning campaign, only being outscored by team-mate Karim Benzema in the league.

Benzema, who was one of only two players to get more assists than Vinicius last season, is now in the twilight years of his career and will soon surely hand the mantle to the next star forward at the Santiago Bernabeu – with Vinicius near-certain to be that man now Kylian Mbappe has decided to remain in Paris for the time being.

In a World Cup year, Vinicius could enjoy a campaign that sees him take the leading man tag for both club and country come the end of the season.

 

Hugo Ekitike – Paris Saint-Germain

Arriving into an attacking that already boasts Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi, it remains to be seen just how much football 20-year-old Hugo Ekitike will manage to play for Christophe Galtier's side.

Moving initially on loan, Ekitike, who was also a target for Newcastle United, is certainly one for the future.

With 10 goals and four assists for Reims last term, Ekitike has shown his prowess in the final third and could be a valuable asset in the hunt to end the elusive wait for a Champions League crown.

Samuele Ricci – Torino

Long touted as the next star in Italy's midfield, Samuele Ricci has moved on from Empoli but, to the surprise of some, did not take the leap to one of Serie A's big guns and instead continued his development by joining Torino in January.

Ricci featured 13 times for Torino, including nine starts in what was a stellar breakout year in Italy's top tier, with the 20-year-old having previously been crowned Serie B's best player in the 2020-21 season.

Breaking into Italy's squad in 2022, Ricci's meteoric rise should continue, and he may find himself coveted by some of the biggest clubs across Europe.

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