Marco Asensio scored the other goal in the 3-0 win, the 20-year-old was outstanding alongside talisman Bale who led from the front and made sure Madrid never missed Cristiano Ronaldo.
Zinedine Zidane could welcome back Ronaldo next weekend against Celta Vigo but there need be no rush because without their double European Champion – and also missing Pepe, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, and with James Rodriguez and Isco on the bench – they saw off Real Sociedad with impressive ease.
The start for Bale and Real Madrid could not have been better as Bale soared to score his first of the season inside two minutes.
Sergio Ramos had sent Dani Carvajal down the right with a fine pass. The full back’s cross hung invitingly over the penalty spot and Bale rose above Real Sociedad’s central defenders and powered his header past Geronimo Rulli in the home team’s goal.
If there were any doubts that Bale could continue the fine form he showed last season, scoring here in San Sebastian in the run-in, before winning the European Cup and leading Wales to the semi-finals at France 2016 they had evaporated inside two minutes.
It was some header – even by Bale’s standards – he scored 10 last season, more than any other player in Europe’s top league, and he is a match for the missing Ronaldo as Europe’s finest in the air.
In minute nine Real Sociedad supporters applauded Dalian Atkinson who scored 12 goals in the 1990-91 season. Although he only played one campaign Atkinson – the first black player in the club’s history – has never been forgotten in Anoeta.
Madrid could have double their lead on 19 minutes when Alvaro Morata crossed from the left and Toni Kroos let fly from distance. Rulli turned the shot away for a corner.
Real Sociedad threatened down the Madrid left where Marcelo looked like the only weak link in the visitors’ defence but when the cross came in it was Bale back defending who cleared from the edge of his own penalty area.
Marcelo was caught napping again on the half hour when Asier Illaramendi got the wrong side of the Brazilian but crossed the ball instead of finishing himself and the chance was gone.
Real Sociedad paid for the misses as five minutes before the break Real Madrid did double their lead. There is nothing wrong with the long-ball game if it’s played as Zidane’s team played it on 40 minutes. Raphael Varane’s perfect long pass forward dropped onto Asensio’s toe and he completely justified his selection ahead of James Rodriguez by controlling it and dinking it over Rulli.
New Spain coach Julen Lopetegui was at Anoeta to see Madrid’s five Spanish starters and it seems highly likely that when he names his first team squad next Friday, Asensio will be in it.
Real Sociedad improved at the start of the second period. Juanma went down under a challenge from Carvajal and the Spain full-back looked nervously across at the referee as Real Sociedad players appealed in vain for a penalty.
Morata was then booked at the other end for going down in the area after a challenge from Iñigo Martinez. There had been no contact from the defender and the decision looked a good one. Morata then forced a fine save from Rulli as his twisted and turned away from Martinez. Kroos smashed the rebound on to the crossbar.
On 65 minutes Asensio made way for Lucas Vazquez both players are ahead of James Rodriugez and Isco. Everybody has to run in Zidane’s Real Madrid. Isco and James have been found wanting in that department in the past and are now struggling to get minutes.
Vazquez’ first intervention was to slide the ball through to Bale who was brought down on the edge of the area. His free-kick hit the wall and from Mateo Kovacic’s shot Rulli saved well again. The goalkeeper that Manchester City signed this summer then sold to Real Sociedad with a buy-back clause they are expected to exercise in two years, looked impressive throughout.
Isco was Zidane’s next change leaving James Rodriguez to continue his warm-up. He finally came on but he needs to find a club before the window closes at the end of the month – that is not going to be easy all the time Madrid have that 80m euros price tag on him.
Bale had to hobble off with three minutes left after taking a knock on his right ankle and in the melee that followed Real Sociedad’s refusal to kick the ball out of play both Yuri Berchiche and Sergio Ramos were booked.
Bale came back on to finish the game in style by rounding Rulli and slotting in the third. He, and his Real Madrid team-mates, have started the season in emphatic style.