The pressure will be on Rafael Benitez to record a winning start to his tenure at Real Madrid this weekend when they travel to Sporting Gijon in La Liga.
Three months after watching arch-rivals Barcelona sweep the board with the treble, there has been plenty of change in the Spanish capital, with Benitez replacing Carlo Ancelotti.
Legendary captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas followed Ancelotti out of the door at Santiago Bernabeu, while Sami Khedira also joined Juventus.
Mateo Kovacic has been brought in as a replacement for Khedira in Benitez’s squad, while he also has full-back Danilo and keeper Kiko Casilla at his disposal.
Benitez knows his new-look side must deliver a convincing victory over newly promoted Gijon to avoid his reign coming under immediate scrutiny, and is confident his forwards will fire them to victory despite struggling in pre-season.
He said: “The most important thing is to make the chances. I am not worried about that at all.
“I am thinking more about [the forwards] closing off the opposition bringing out the ball from the back, stopping them making chances.”
Real – who will be without Karim Benzema due to a thigh problem – are huge favourites, but Gijon coach Abelardo will not allow that to worry his side.
Having earned automatic promotion from Segunda Division last season behind champions Real Betis, Gijon are embarking on their first top flight campaign since 2012.
Loan signings have been key to their preparations, with Barcelona youngster Alen Halilovic becoming their third temporary addition ahead of the new campaign on Friday, the Croat joining Antonio Sanabria and Omar Mascarell – the latter on loan from Real.
“Out of 100 matches against Madrid we would win one, hopefully that will be tomorrow,” said Abelardo. “Real Madrid are a lethal team and if they are successful they make you pay.
“They are technically better [than us] but in strength, unity and commitment they are not – although this does not win matches.
“We will try to make is uncomfortable for them, and ensure they do not have a high percentage of possession.”
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