Real Madrid begin a bid to win the La Liga title for the first time since the 2011/12 season, with a home opener against Cordoba. Manager Carlo Ancelotti's Real players will be eager to erase the memory of last season when they had to watch city-rival Atletico capture the league crown.
Ancelotti's squad stumbled to third place behind bitter foe FC Barcelona. However, victories in the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League provided ample consolation.
But Ancelotti will know that his grace period is now over. Any Los Blancos boss is required to deliver the league title.
Here is all of the relevant schedule information ahead of the game:
|Monday, August 25||7 p.m. BST / 2 p.m. ET||Sky Sports 5 / beIN Sports en Espanol, beIN Sports USA||Sky Go / beIN Sports Connect|
SkySports.com and FootballWorld.com
Cristiano Ronaldo Reportedly Fit to Play
Ancelotti has received a huge boost thanks to news that talisman forward Cristiano Ronaldo is fit to play in the opener. The free-scoring Portuguese sensation couldn't complete either game in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup clash with Atletico.
But Ronaldo will be raring to go for the start of league action, according to Ancelotti, per ESPNFC.co.uk:
However, Ancelotti revealed in a news conference on Sunday that Ronaldo would be ready to face Cordoba, calling any injuries that remain 'minor annoyances.'
The Real Madrid boss blamed Ronaldo's persistant hobbles on the team's busy preseason. Ronaldo accompanied the team on its tour of the United States and faced Manchester United on Aug. 2, then scored twice in the UEFA Super Cup in Wales on Aug. 12, before also scoring against Fiorentina in Poland four days later.
Of course, any time Ronaldo is fit and firing is great news for Los Blancos. His pace, movement and finishing power are still the keys to Madrid's attack.
Will Real Madrid win La Liga this season?
But that won't stop Ancelotti hoping Ronaldo receives even greater support from fellow wide forward Gareth Bale and natural striker Karim Benzema this term.
When this front three is on form, Madrid are close to impossible for any opponent to contain. Yet much will depend on the supply this trio receives during the new season.
New-Look Midfield in Focus
There is sure to be a lot of focus on Real's new signings in midfield. In particular, German schemer Toni Kroos will find himself in the spotlight.
Kroos has brought his pass-and-move skills to a position already featuring patient schemers Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric. Sadly, this trio couldn't exert any influence in the Super Cup against Atletico.
ESPNFC.co.uk writer Rob Train detailed the problems: "Real's midfield three of Xabi Alonso, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric has yet to build an understanding, and the lack of linkup with the forward line reduced Real to probing with the long ball too often."
Ancelotti's brand of flowing football relies on quick transitions and fluid passing between the midfield and forward lines. That's how Kroos played for Germany at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Ancelotti needs his new pass master to quickly show he can be a creative force alongside the experience of Alonso and Modric.
Obviously, Cordoba will find it tough to trouble Los Blancos at the Santiago Bernabeu. The greater focus will be on how impressively Ancelotti's team can begin a pivotal campaign.