Real Madrid recovered from conceding an early goal to beat newly promoted Almeria 2-1 in its opening match of the LaLiga season on Sunday.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti kept his word and made five changes to the starting 11 that won both the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup, including handing debuts to new signings Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Tchouameni.
But the gamble looked to have backfired when striker Largie Ramazani opened the scoring for Almeria after ghosting behind Rudiger in the sixth minute.
Vinicius Jr had several chances to equalise but goalkeeper Fernando Martinez made at least three crucial stops from close range strikes by the Brazilian.
Last year’s LaLiga top goalscorer Karim Benzema had a disappointing showing as Almeria’s five-man defence did a superb job in shackling him, showing real grit as they tried to defend their lead.
Real finished the first half with almost 70% of possession and 17 goals attempts against only a couple for the home team.
Real piled on the pressure after the break when Ancelotti sent on veterans Luka Modric and Eden Hazard from the bench in place of young French midfielders Eduardo Camavinga and Tchouameni, who struggled to make an impact.
Lucas Vazquez scored the equaliser from a rebound after another individual effort from Vinicius in the 61st minute and substitute David Alaba scored the winner from a free kick into the upper left corner in the 75th minute.
“It was a complicated match, they explored very well the spaces that we left on the back of the defence,” Ancelotti told Movistar Plus.
“Tchouameni and Camavinga didn’t show their true quality and potential but sometimes Real Madrid shirt is a heavy burden for the young players.
“I have full confidence that they will progress because they are high level players.”