Real Madrid Vs. Valencia: Final Score 1-1, Los Blancos Start Season With Draw

Real Madrid got their season underway with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu. Despite controlling most of the match, they couldn't hold onto their first half lead, allowing Jonas to pull the visitors back to level terms just before the break and then finding themselves unable to break down a packed Los Che defence.

Gonzalo Higuain got the hosts off to a superb start, taking down a great pass over the top from Angel di Maria to go one on one against Diego Alves. To say it wasn't a clean finish would be an understatement -- a superb stop from the Valencia goalkeeper blocked the Argentinian's first effort. The rebound went straight back to Higuain, who fired the ball back into Alves' legs, collecting the rebound again before finally boring of the impromptu tennis game and lashing into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

But their lead didn't last. Real wasted several clear chances before halftime, and Valencia hit them hard just prior to the break. Former Madrid man Fernando Gago won a dangerous-looking free kick on the right, and Pepe and Iker Casillas wiped each other out in a nasty-looking collision as both tried for the ball. That left Jonas free to nod Tino Costa's delivery into an empty net for the equaliser, although possibly more worrying for Madrid fans was the length of time which both players stayed on the ground.

Indeed, Raul Albiol came on at the break, replacing Pepe*. That substitution didn't do much to change the home side's fortunes: Try as they might, Madrid simply couldn't score. Diego Alves continued making spectacular saves all evening, and the closest that the hosts came to re-breaking the deadlock was when Higuain hit the crossbar from close range just after the hour mark. Indeed, it was Valencia who would next put the ball in the back of the net, although Roberto Soldado had the strike ruled out for offside.

*It must be slightly difficult to tell when Pepe is concussed.

So, the champions of Spain had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their opening match of the 2012/13 season. With dropped points at a real premium, Madrid's struggles represent a great chance for arch-rivals Barcelona to take a very early lead in this year's title race.

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