Real Madrid host Sporting Gijon at the Santiago Bernabeu in their first game after FIFA imposed a two-window transfer ban on them. The announcement of the ban is yet another embarrassment for Real Madrid this season. Zinedine Zidane, in his second game as Real manager, will want his men to shift the fans’ focus from the transfer ban to the team’s performance.

It will be a David v Goliath battle on Sunday as Real Madrid will be looking to close in on the top spot in the league while Sporting Gijon will be trying their best to get out of the relegation zone. The odds are definitely in Real Madrid’s favour as they will play at home with a much superior squad available. All being said, Sporting Gijon have frustrated Real Madrid the last time these two met, which was on the opening day of La Liga in a goalless match that led to Real Madrid dropping 2 points at the start of the season.

Zinedine Zidane v Abelardo Fernandez

Zinedine Zidane has been off to a positive start as his first game as the Real Madrid manager ended in a 5-0 victory for the whites. On the other hand, Abelardo Fernandez is going through a very rough patch as his team have only managed 4 wins in 19 games this season. Both the managers are hungry for a win but only Zidane has the pressure of pocketing the three points. The odds also are very much in favour of the Frenchman.

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Attacking football a must for Zidane

Real Madrid vs Deportivo CorunaOne of the main reasons why Real Madrid showed Rafael Benitez the exit door was the Spaniard’s conservative playing style. Real Madrid are best known for high-power attacking football and that is exactly what they were lacking under Benitez. Though, they did score a lot of goals under Benitez, the playing style was definitely not up to the mark and there were many games in which the Spanish giants finished without a goal to their name. These things are expected to change with Zidane, who was a highly rated attacking player himself, in-charge at the club. The fans as well as the club management expect Zidane’s side to be at their attacking best and a low-scoring game will definitely result in the manager facing a lot of flak.

Playing at the Bernabeu against a team battling relegation, scoring goals should hardly be a problem for Real Madrid. The only question that remains is that how many goals will be enough to satisfy the fans’ expectations for the star-studded squad.

Real Madrid may not be in the best of the form as they have lost one and drawn one of their last 5 league games. However, a lot has changed in those 5 games for the Spanish giants as they now how a new manager in the dugout. Zidane’s side did impress in his first game and the second game is expected to be more or less a similar story.

Fernandez hardly has a choice

Fernandez does not have many options when it comes to tactics. His team is facing a strong, hungry, quick and energetic opponent in Real Madrid. The defence has to absolutely be on their toes the full 90 minutes if they want to get something out of the game. Fernandez will want his men to sit back and defend as strongly as possible against the Real Madrid attack. The away side will have to face a lot of shots and they will have to be disciplined in order to stop Real Madrid from converting them into goals.

Gijon are expected to concede a few goals but they might even be able to score one or two themselves. The Real Madrid defence has been shaky this season and a clever attack can prove to do wonders for the away side.

Gijon have been struggling in the league and their form is testament to that. The visitors have failed to score a goal in their last four games and they are inching closer to the bottom place with each passing match. Having only managed 4 wins in 19 games, Gijon’s future in the league looks bleak.

Key Battles

Gareth Bale v Isma Lopez

Real Madrid vs Deportivo CorunaGareth Bale is on fire for Real Madrid and the Welshman definitely seemed like he loved playing under new manager Zidane in the last game. The winger scored a hat-trick and looked very good and showed a lot of energy in the game. The former Spurs man is expected to continue his fine form and wreak havoc on Sunday as he comes up against a weak Gijon defence. It will be a testing game for Gijon Left back Isma Lopez as he would be directly battling Bale, who will lead the attack from the right for Real Madrid.

Halilovic v Isco

Isco and Halilovic will both be helming the creative side of the midfield for their respective teams. While Halilovic will have a tough time creating chances against the Real Madrid defence, Isco is expected to show an energetic performance on the field. The Spaniard impressed in the last game against Deportivo and is expected to do so again on Sunday.

Sanabria v Pepe

Sanabria is the Gijon’s top scorer with six goals this season and the visitors are expected to rely on the forward to score. While Pepe might not be having his best season, he is still a very solid defender and capable enough to stop Sanabria from finding the back of the net.

Strengths

Real Madrid

  • Playing at home, Real Madrid can be ruthless against weaker opponents and can purely destroy them with attacks after attacks.
  • Real Madrid will hold most of the possession and they will use Marcelo and Bale’s pace on either wing to create maximum goal-scoring opportunities.
  • The key to the high amount of goals Real Madrid score lies in the number of shots they take. With Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale having an eye for goals, Real Madrid collectively take a lot of shots and rack up high amount of goals.

Sporting Gijon

  • Sporting Gijon are known to attack down the wings and that is what they will try to do when they face Real Madrid. They will try to exploit Carvajal and Marcelo’s defensive weaknesses and create some chances down the flank.

Weaknesses

Real Madrid

  • Real Madrid’s biggest weakness lies in their defence. They have conceded a lot of soft goals this season and have dropped a few points courtesy some poor defending.

Sporting Gijon

  • Sporting Gijon have problems when it come to keeping possession of the ball. As Real Madrid love to keep the ball, Gijon will be seeing very little ball time on Sunday.
  • Gijon struggle when it comes to aerial duels and almost all the Real Madrid attackers do a good job in the air. We might see at least one headed from one of the home side forwards.
  • Defending shots from distances has been a problem for Gijon.

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