23rd August, 2015; 18:30 GMT
In a clash of mismatched opponents, Real Madrid take on Sporting de Gijon as they turn over a new chapter under the leadership of Rafa Benitez. Having failed to win a single trophy last season, Benitez will be under tremendous pressure to deliver at Santiago Bernabeu and will hope to start off this season with an emphatic win against the newly promoted outfit.
Team News and Tactics
Following their relegation in the 2011-12 season, Sporting Gijon have managed to upset the odds by winning its place back in the Spanish La Liga. Abelardo Fernandez would have hoped for an easier start to their campaign but has the opportunity to really test his squad as they host Real Madrid on Sunday.
Having joined Sporting Gijon on loan from Barcelona, Alen Halilovic is expected to start against old rivals Real Madrid as he jostles for a spot in the starting line-up. Omar Mascarell also joins the side from Real Madrid (loan) along with Antonio Sanabria from Roma.
Ivan Cuellar is expected to start between the posts for Sporting as Hernandez, Bernardo Espinosa, Lopez and Alberto Lora Ramos take their place in the defence. Sporting will hope to defend in large numbers in order to keep Real Madrid out and hence are likely to sit deep and soak the pressure.
While Castro Garcia is expected to lead the teama s attack, he is likely to be joined with Alen Halilovic and Miguel Angel Guerrero in the starting eleven who will seek to attack on the counter in a bid to unsettle Reala s defence. It will be interesting to see how Sporting Gijon shape up against Real Madrid as they hope to start their campaign by staging a major upset at El Molinon.
Probable Line-Up: Cuellar (GK); Hernandez, Espinosa, Ramos, Lopez; Cases, Carmona, Alvarez, Halilovic, Guerrero; Castro Garcia
Following a lacklustre pre-season tour, Rafa Benitez will be keen to start off his campaign at Real Madrid with an emphatic win as they visit newly promoted Sporting Gijon on Sunday. Taking over the reins from Carlo Ancelotti, the Spaniard will have the opportunity to tinker with his starting eleven as Real Madrid adapt to their new managera s playing style.
With Karim Benzema ruled out for the away trip, Jese Rodriguez is expected to take his place in the starting line-up with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo expecting to start undisputedly in the opening fixture of the season. It will be interesting to see how Benitez accommodates both Isco and James Rodriguez in his team, with both players coming from a successful pre-season tour. Benitez could also opt to play Gareth Bale in a false 9 role, thus making room for both the Colombian and the Spaniard in the starting line-up. While this team selection might appear to be strong on paper, Gareth Bale has had an unconvincing start under Rafa Benitez despite his apparent a promotiona in the squad.
Despite successfully signed Mateo Kovacic from Inter Milan earlier this week, it is unlikely that the Croatian will get the nod ahead of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos who are expected to slot back into their position in the midfield from last season.
With Coentrao injured, Marcelo is expected to start in the defence alongside newly appointed captain Sergio Ramos who extended his contract at Real Madrid following speculations regarding a move to Manchester United. Raphael Varane is expected to be given a prominent role under Benitez and the Frenchman could partner Ramos in the defence with Carvajal likely to retain his place despite the arrival of Danilo from Porto this summer.
Probable Line-Up: Navas (GK); Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Carvajal; Modric, Kroos, Ronaldo, Bale, Rodriguez; Jese
- Real Madrid will be without the services of Iker Casillas for the first time in 15 years following his departure to Porto earlier this summer.
- Sporting Gijon have managed to win only once against Real Madrid in 19 years. Gijon won 0-1 at Santiago Bernabeu in 2011.
- Real Madrid will be without the services of Karim Benzema who is yet to recover from his thigh injury.
Player To Watch Out For
Cristiano Ronaldo remains the player to watch out for as Real Madrid hope to mount a successful title challenge against the likes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. However, it will be interesting to see how Gareth Bale performs as he is expected to be given a free role in the midfield with Benitez hoping to build his team around the Welshman.
Sporting Gijon 1-3 Real Madrid
Real Madrid should comfortably ease past Sporting Gijon who are yet to find their feet in the Spanish La Liga following their recent promotion. Despite their lacklustre goal-scoring record in the pre-season tour, the sheer amount of firepower in the squad should be enough to give Rafa Benitez his first official win as the manager of Real Madrid.