Carlo Ancelotti’s side returned from the 2022 World Cup break with wins in their first La Liga and Copa del Rey games back in action.
However, they lacked intensity at the Estadio de la Ceramica, as Gerard Moreno’s late penalty sealed all three points for Quique Setien’s hosts.
¡FINAL! ¡FINAL! ¡FINAL! ¡FINAL! ¡FINAL! ¡FINAL! ¡FINAL! ¡FINAL! ¡FINAL! ¡FINAAAAAAAAAL DEEEEEEL PARTIDOOOOOO!
— Villarreal CF (@VillarrealCF) January 7, 2023
The game will not go down as a classic for Los Blancos fans but it did set an unexpected new record for Real Madrid.
Real Madrid’s starting XI does not include a single Spanish player for the first time in the club’s history 🌎 pic.twitter.com/LcnUNSwLKR
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 7, 2023
Ancelotti’s starting XI in Castellon featured 11 players not born in Spain, or representing La Roja at international level, for the first time in the club’s 121-year history.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) January 7, 2023
Real Madrid are proud of the international superstars dotted through their history, and their production line of domestic talent, but this tie broke new ground.
‼️ H I S T Ó R I C O ‼️
El partido oficial número 4.436 en la historia del Real Madrid es el PRIMERO del conjunto blanco en sus 121 años de historia sin un solo jugador español en el once inicial. pic.twitter.com/C9p27GGUnj
— MisterChip (Alexis) (@2010MisterChip) January 7, 2023
The team included eight non-Spanish European internationals, and three South American stars, including seven who featured for their nations in Qatar last month.