As Real Madrid gear up for the start of a new season, manager Rafa Benitez has confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo will feature in their opening fixture against Sporting Gijon amidst concerns over the Portuguese’s fitness.

Cristiano Ronaldo did not participate in the recently concluded Audi Cup and was not part of the squad that travelled to Norway to participate in Real Madrid’s last pre-season friendly. Alongside Pepe and Benzema, the Spanish giants are reportedly working on getting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos fit before the commencement of the new season.

Ronaldo has been working with the medical team

However manager Rafa Benitez has assuaged the fans’ fears surrounding Real Madrida s key player by confirming that he would feature in their opening fixture against Sporting Gijon.

“Cristiano had a problem the other day and he has been working with the medical team. He should be okay next week and I dona t think hea ll have any problems playing the opening game against Sporting on August 23.a

Real Madrid have lacked bite up front in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Succumbing to a 1-0 defeat against Bayern Munich in the finals of the Audi Cup, Real Madrid fans are likely to be concerned with the number of injuries the squad has picked up in the pre-season.

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How will Rafa Benitez cope with Karim Benzema’s injury?

While Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo are likely to regain their fitness before the start of the season, Karim Benzema has been reportedly ruled out for 3 weeks amidst reports linking him with a big money move to Arsenal. Portuguese defender Pepe too has picked up an injury after he limped off the pitch against Bayern Munich in the Audi Cup final.

Will Real Madrid be able to successfully cope with Benzema's absence?

Will Real Madrid be able to successfully cope with Benzema’s absence?

Having rejected the option of signing Javier Hernandez from Manchester United, Real Madrid do not have a second striker in their ranks in the absence of Karim Benzema. Rafael Benitez has toyed with the idea of playing both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale up front in the pre-season while also using the Welshman as a false 9 against Tottenham Hotspur in the pre-season tour.

However Cristiano Ronaldo is not keen to start as a striker as the position does not allow him to use his pace to run down the flanks and expose the opposition’s defence. The Portuguese was used in a similar position by Carlo Ancelotti, with the effort yielding no results. Similarly, Gareth Bale too struggled to lead the team’s attack in the absence of Karim Benzema during the pre-season, leaving Benitez with very few options on his hands.

With the season fast approaching its start, it will be interesting to see how Real Madrid cope with the absence of the Frenchman from their starting line-up.