Real Madrid start their 2015-16 league campaign on Sunday against Sporting Gijon, one of three newly promoted clubs. Whereas, their most fierce league rivals Barcelona face a trip to Athletic Bilbao, the team which beat them 5-1 on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup. Madrid will be hoping to end their Liga title drought of three years now, and will surely want to start with a victory against a relatively weaker opponent in Gijon. New boss Rafael Benitez usually prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation, and will be expected to field the same on Sunday. The probable Madrid starting XI for Sunday’s match against Gijon is as follows:-
Goalkeeper – Keylor Navas
Since the departure of club legend Iker Casillas, the no. 1 jersey has been given to Keylor Navas and the Costa Rican is expected to start for Real Madrid ahead of new signing Kiko Casilla.
Full Backs – Dani Carvajal and Marcelo
Dani Carvajal has established himself as the first choice right back since his arrival in 2013, and though he will face stiff competition for his position this season from the new signing Danilo, he is expected to start the game for Madrid. For the left back position, with Coentrao sitting on the bench for most of the last season, there is no doubt that Marcelo will be starting the game against Gijon.
Centre Backs – Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane
Sergio Ramos is expected start his first competitive game as the club captain of Real Madrid, and with Pepe returning from injury, it won’t be a surprise to see young Frenchman Raphael Varane to start ahead of the Portuguese.
Central Midfielders – Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale
Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will be given the responsibility to start the match as the two holding midfielders. Isco is also an important member of the team, but is expected to be benched for the first match. Benitez has preferred Gareth Bale in the no. 10 role so far, and is expected to field the Welshman in the same role on Sunday.
Wingers – Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez
With Bale playing in the no. 10 position, James Rodriguez will be expected to operate from the right for Madrid, with Ronaldo playing in his favoured left wing position.
Striker – Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema was rested in Real’s 2-1 pre-season victory against Galatasaray, but will be expected to lead the frontline for Real Madrid against Gijon on Sunday.