Zinedine Zidane’s side will look to pounce on Barcelona’s slip-up on Friday as they go in search of a first Spanish league title in three years
Real Madrid will look to put last year’s dreadful La Liga season behind them by taking an early advantage in the title race with a trip to Celta Vigo.
The home side avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and will be hoping to take advantage of any bedding-in issues with Zinedine Zidane’s new-look side.
With Barcelona deservedly beaten at Athletic Club on Friday night, Madrid have an early opportunity to seize the initiative and begin to exorcise the ghosts of last year – when they finished 19 points behind table-topping Barca in third.
|Game||Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid|
|Date||Saturday, August 17|
|Time||4:00pm BST / 11:00am ET|
|Stream (US)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) .
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports / beIN Sports en Espanol||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
The match is not available to be watched in the United Kingdom (UK).
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Position||Celta Vigo squad|
|Goalkeepers||Alvarez, Blanco, Villar|
|Defenders||Mallo, Costas, Araujo, Aidoo, Olaza, Saenz, Junca, Vazquez|
|Midfielders||Yokuslu, Suarez, Beltran, Lobotka, Jozabed, Mendez, Cheikh|
|Forwards||Aspas, Sisto, Fernandez, Mina|
Summer signing Santi Mina is doubtful with an ankle issue, while club captain Hugo Mallo is also sidelined on the opening day.
Denis Suarez, freshly signed from Barcelona, will be hoping to impress with last season’s 20-goal top scorer Iago Aspas leading the line once again.
Celta Vigo starting XI: Ruben; Kevin, Costas, Araujo, Olaza; Suarez, Beltran, Lobotka, Mendez; Fernandez, Aspas.
Subs: Villar, Sisto, Saenz, Aidoo, Cheikh, Bermejo, Losada.
|Position||Real Madrid squad|
|Defenders||Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Militao, Nacho, Odriozola|
|Midfielders||Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Valverde, James Rodriguez, Isco|
|Forwards||Benzema, Bale, Jovic, Lucas Vazquez, Vinicius, Diaz|
Eden Hazard is set to miss the first few weeks of the season with a thigh problem, while fellow new signing Ferland Mendy is also out with a calf injury.
Luka Jovic also doesn’t start while the long-term injury suffered by Marco Asensio sees room made for a surprise return for Gareth Bale. James Rodriguez is on the bench and if he does play some part, it will be his first game for Madrid in more than 800 days.
Real Madrid starting XI: Courtois, Odriozola, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Bale, Vinicius, Benzema.
Subs: Navas, Militao, Nacho, James, Lucas Vazquez, Jovic, Isco.
Real Madrid are hot 8/11 favourites to win this match with bet365 . Celta are on offer at 7/2, while the draw is available at 3/1.
Click here to see all of bet365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
With a distant third-place finish in the league and the ordeal of relinquishing their grip on the Champions League with humiliation by Ajax, 2018-19 was one of the most catastrophic seasons in Real Madrid’s recent history.
Zinedine Zidane’s summer rebuild has been dramatic and, while, he has plenty of goodwill to fall back on following his previous spell in charge, results will be expected immediately.
Their first opponents Celta may have finished 17th last season but the disastrous spell of form which saw them dragged into the relegation battle coincided almost totally with a long-term injury to Iago Aspas.
With their talisman leading the line, Celta are a different side. But manager Fran Escriba is feeling hard done by; the Spanish FA (RFEF) announced on the eve of the new campaign that players who picked up a fifth booking on the final day of last season would not be suspended, meaning Madrid can call upon right-back Dani Carvajal.
“They’ve had two months to decide if they will be let off or banned for the first game of the season,” he fumed. “Deciding this on the day the league starts doesn’t benefit anybody. I think it is more serious than the thing about when the transfer window closes.
“Imagine if that happened to a vital player like Messi or Hazard, who sometimes completely changes the game. You prepare for that game affected by certain players being out and then suddenly on the day of the match, everything changes. It’s a joke, really.”
Zidane, meanwhile, would have been hoping to start the season with a fresh slate and a blockbuster new squad. But the footballing fates rarely align quite so conveniently and, following a frustrating pre-season campaign which saw Madrid beaten by Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Roma, he is without some of his newer toys.
With Buzz Lightyear unavailable, he must may have to turn back to plain old Woody. Once the fresh new playthings that everybody wanted, forgotten men James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale are both somehow still at the club, with Zidane putting on a brave face as he claimed he would be happy to use them.
“I will rely on all the players who are here,” he said. “He [Bale] has his place, he is an important player and I hope all the players will make the task of choosing a team difficult.
“The dynamics are changing, things are changing. From now on I will rely on him as on others.
“James is fit and I am happy to have him in the squad. I will count on all who are here and they are all happy to be here.”
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