Real Madrid vs Valencia

Reigning Champions Real Madrid are on a quest to smash more records and welcome the only team not to concede at the Santiago Bernabeu last season.

Los Blancos finally usurped the autonomy of Barcelona with some awe-inspiring performances both home and away in La Liga last year. Jose Mourinho will again have his sights set firmly on the Champions League, but having wrestled power from the Catalan giants in Spain, interest in Luka Modric is evidence that an assault will be made on both fronts.

Cristiano Ronaldo remains the focal point of an enviable attack consisting of the likes of Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil. The flying Portuguese winger scored an incredible 46 League goals last term and is tipped by many to win the Ballon d’Or. Los Merengues may be accused of over-relying on the No 7 but few players can match Ronaldo for pace, guile, and potency in the air.

Moussa Dembele and Luka Modric have been linked with moves to Madrid but Mourinho’s lack of market movement suggests that he is happy with the current squad at his disposal.

Valencia on the other hand boast new personnel and a new Coach, with Mauricio Pellegrino replacing Unai Emery on Los Che’s bench. A notable on-pitch arrival is former Sporting CP right-back Joao Pereira who will likely be tasked with attempting to neutralise Ronaldo.

Pereira may have his hands full with his fellow countryman but Madrid will be wary of his attacking threat down the flank. Should the Madrid man elude Pereira, he will be faced with Vicente Guaita, the one ‘keeper that left the Bernabeu in La Liga last term with a clean sheet. The Spaniard played out of his skin in that encounter and Pellegrino will look to him to produce similar heroics this time around.

Up front, Roberto Soldado is looking to prove his fitness and carry on from where he left off last season. Should he be unavailable, then Jonas will be eager to play having coming off the back of an impressive pre-season. Nelson Valdez is on loan from Rubin Kazan and may also feature in the match.

Kick off: Sunday, August 19 at 6pm (UK time)

Keep an eye on: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – The forward became the first man in Spanish League history to score against every Primera Division team in a single campaign. Both he and Gonzalo Higuain have scored 10 goals in the past against Los Che.

Form Guide: Real Madrid ( – – – – ) Valencia ( – – – – ) 

Last season: Real Madrid 0-0 Valencia

Stat fact: Despite an entertaining 0-0 draw last season, Madrid rule the roost when hosting Valencia at the Bernabeu, having won nine of the previous 12 League meetings at home.

Real Madrid (probable): Casillas; Marcelo, Ramos, Pepe, Arbeloa; Khedira, Alonso; Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema

Valencia (probable): Guaita; Pereira, Rami, R. Costa, Mathieu; T. Costa, Gago, Feghouli, Jonas, Guardado; Soldado