On Saturday, the Bernabeu Stadium, the home of Spanish soccer powerhouse Real Madrid, reopened after a £500 million renovation project that began in 2019.
President of the club Florentino Perez had previously pledged to build an arena that would rival any in the world. Now a beautiful space-age arena, it was closed for the season-opening visit of Getafe on Saturday due to the inclement weather.
Fans of Real came out not only to celebrate the reopening of their renovated stadium, but also to honor their new hero, Jude Bellingham.
The Englishman scored on his season debut against Athletic Bilbao, added two more goals in a win against Almeria, and then scored a late winner against Celta Vigo to record three consecutive road victories to start the season.
As a city, Bellingham has swiftly become established. The 20-year-old’s demeanor, maturity, and play have all wowed his legion of supporters.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti gushed over his new player after their opening day victory in Bilbao, saying, “He has a lot of personality and has adapted very quickly.” He seems to have been with us for quite some time now.
There have been two other indications of this speedy integration: one off the pitch and one on it. Bellingham used his time off last week to take a vacation with his new teammates Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni to the south of France.
Then, Bellingham made his home debut at the grand reopening of the Bernabeu after being awarded La Liga’s player of the month for August.
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Bellingham scores the game-winning goal for Real Madrid once more
Borja Mayoral, a striker for the underdogs Getafe, threatened to ruin Real’s home opener celebration on Saturday when he intercepted a poor pass from left defender Fran Garcia and around goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for the opening goal.
Bellingham was a key cog in Real’s disorganized effort to get back in the game, making frequent forays into the penalty area and even gaining a penalty that was overturned by VAR review.
New Real forward Joselu, beginning his second stint at the club, pounced on a loose ball and fired in an equalizer just after halftime, but tenacious Getafe continued to offer tough resistance.
Ancelotti kept Bellingham on the field despite his diminished impact and fatigue after halftime, instead replacing the other starting midfielders as the home team’s chances of winning dwindled.
That call paid off in the 95th minute when Bellingham scored the game-winning goal for the second straight game, this time after Getafe goalie David Soria mishandled a shot by Lucas Vazquez. Bellingham scored with a lovely left-footed slot shot.
Bellingham relished the opportunity by bursting into a full-on, chest-out, arms-out jig. This celebration has swiftly become the iconic picture of the current La Liga season, and it is expected to be imitated by thousands of Spanish schoolchildren on the playgrounds when classes resume next week.
That victory dance is more than simply a position; it expresses an attitude that perfectly captures Bellingham’s ability to walk the line between self-assurance and arrogance, making it appropriate for a club that promotes an inflated sense of self-importance.
Even though the season has only been going for a month, the man from Stourbridge has become a huge hit in Madrid.
It was the loudest moment I’ve ever heard in a stadium,” Bellingham said to Real Madrid TV after the game. Thankfully, it served my end.
“When they were singing ‘Hey Jude’ at the conclusion, I got chills.
Simply being still and listening to them was all I wanted to do. My lower body was trembling.
“I know I can deliver for this team in moments like these, and I know that’s why I was brought in.”
Changing teams and responsibilities
Following Pepillo in 1960 and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, Bellingham is the third player in Real Madrid history to score in each of his first four games for the club, and he will be under pressure to keep up his productive streaks as the season progresses.
Ancelotti is desperately in need of a goalscoring option after the club failed to sign Kylian Mbappe or a comparable replacement for Karim Benzema, leaving him with only the recently acquired Joselu and Brahim Diaz, the Brazilian wingers Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior, who is currently injured.
We’ll have to look elsewhere for inspiration. For the game-winning goal on Saturday, Bellingham specifically benefited from the freedom to roam afforded him by the team’s midfield.
Ancelotti has pushed Bellingham further along in his career than ever before because of his goal-scoring instincts as a new signing.
That’s due in large part to the rest of his squad. Ancelotti has a plethora of options in the center of the field other than Bellingham, including Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Fede Valverde, Tchouameni, and Camavinga.
Real require the Englishman to finish attacks by charging into the box in support of the strike force, and the fact that 49 of his 58 touches against Getafe were in their own half is indicative of this.
While it’s unrealistic to think he’ll keep up Ronaldo-like goal-scoring rates, his 14 goals from last season with Borussia Dortmund will be his career high.
From what we’ve seen in the first few weeks of the season, it’s clear that Jude Bellingham is already one of, if not the most important players for Real Madrid, thanks to his combination of talent, mentality, and goals.