European roundup: Real Madrid held goalless by Real Sociedad

European roundup: Real Madrid held goalless by Real Sociedad

Real Madrid made an underwhelming return to La Liga as they could only draw 0-0 at Real Sociedad in the first game of their title defence.

The champions looked rusty and particularly toothless up front, barely creating any chances of note in either half as Karim Benzema found little support in the Brazilian teenage forwards Vinícius Jr and Rodrygo.

Benzema missed Real’s best chance of the first half when he lost his footing as he rounded the goalkeeper Álex Remiro and later saw a goalbound shot blocked by a dive from the Sociedad defender Aritz Elustondo.

Marvin, a 20-year-old substitute, could have had a dream Madrid debut when a chance fell his way but he failed to keep his composure. David Silva made his first La Liga appearance in a decade when he came on as a substitute for Sociedad in the second half.

Andrea Pirlo got his coaching career off to a winning start as his Juventus side beat Sampdoria 3-0 in their opening Serie A game of the season. The champions went ahead when Dejan Kulusevski scored on his debut in the 13th minute, with only his sixth touch of the ball in a Juventus shirt, before the defender Leonardo Bonucci and Cristiano Ronaldo added further goals in the last 15 minutes.

Pirlo, the former Milan and Juventus midfielder, had no senior coaching experience when he was surprisingly chosen to replace Maurizio Sarri in August, and only got his coaching badge last week

Napoli pounced on two defensive mistakes to win 2-0 at Parma in their opening match as spectators returned to Serie A for the first time since March. Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne got their campaign off to a winning start with second-half goals shortly after the club record signing Victor Osimhen was brought on for his debut.

A smattering of fans, wearing masks and widely spaced apart, watched the game at Parma’s Stadio Tardini after the government agreed to allow up to 1,000 spectators at matches for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown.

Genoa, who narrowly escaped relegation last season, made a flying start under their new coach Rolando Maran as they thumped promoted Crotone 4-1. Mattia Destro and the 37-year-old Goran Pandev put them 2-0 ahead inside 10 minutes before Emmanuel Rivière pulled one back before the half-hour. Davide Zappacosta, making his debut on loan from Chelsea, made it 3-1 with a solo goal in the 34th minute and Marko Pjaca, signed on loan from Juventus on Saturday, added the fourth in the 75th.

The Sassuolo midfielder Mehdi Bourabia curled in an 87th-minute free-kick to salvage a 1-1 draw at home to Cagliari, who were playing their first match under the former Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco. Giovanni Simeone gave the Sardinian side the lead with a diving header from João Pedro’s cross in the 77th minute and had a goal disallowed for offside three minutes later.

In Germany RB Leipzig eased past Mainz 3-1 in their Bundesliga opener to enjoy a successful start to league life without their striker Timo Werner. Werner, now of Chelsea, had missed their run to their Champions League semi-finals in August but Leipzig had little trouble finding the back of the net against Mainz, striking twice in four minutes.

Emil Forsberg converted a 17th-minute penalty for a foul on Dani Olmo and Yussuf Poulsen rose high to drill in a header for the second goal. Mainz cut the deficit three minutes after the restart when Quaison threaded a ball through the entire Leipzig defence for Jean-Philippe Mateta to score with a fine finish. Any hopes of a comeback lasted only three minutes, however, with Amadou Haidara tapping in a Forsberg assist in the 51st minute to restore Leipzig’s two-goal cushion.

Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen played out a goalless draw.