Jose Mourinho’s men will attempt to continue their strong run against los Rojiblancos...
The start that Sporting de Gijon has made to the campaign has been little more than competent, so Manuel Preciado will not relish the visit of Real Madrid to his lowly side.
Ten points are all the los Sportinguistas have managed to accrue in their 10 matches to date, and with only three wins in La Primera Division since the start of March, there is little for the Asturian club to be confident about going into a clash with such a behemoth.
All three of their triumphs have come at El Molinon, though it has been draws that have largely dominated the landscape of their results over the last eight months. As a result, the Gijon side have been running just to keep still for much of the time.
Preciado’s unit have shown lately that they are capable of coming head-on successfully against the best sides in the league, picking up a creditable draw with Villarreal a fortnight ago which perhaps should have been a win given that the levelling goal was conceded from the penalty spot late in the day. Real Madrid, however, are a step up even on the Yellow Submarine.
Sporting picked up another draw on Thursday night, this time against Mallorca, though it was a rather hollow one. Trailing 3-1 in their Copa del Rey tie going into the fixture at El Molinon, los Rojiblancos quickly fell 2-0 behind, leaving them six goals to score to progress. Mate Bilic and Juan Muniz did register, but it was too little, too late for a team who will have to be at their best to take anything from Sunday’s fixture.
Concerns that Jose Mourinho may not be suitable for Real Madrid have long been cast away, and already los Blancos are bullishly pushing their way towards Barcelona’s crown. The goals and flowing and wins are readily coming, and though there have been some slips on the road, there is little to suggest that the capital side will fail to earn three points on Sunday.
Going into the weekend, the Bernabeu club boast a one point lead over Barca, and they have a better record both offensively and defensively. Given that after five games of the season, Madrid’s paltry tally of six goals was being lamented, it shows just how red-hot they’ve become in front of goal over their last five encounters.
Atletico Madrid were comfortably dismissed 2-0 in the Derbi last weekend, with los Blancos feeling so confident Cristiano Ronaldo played a pass using his back as Mourinho’s men taunted their cross-city rivals with their flamboyant skills. That los Colchoneros held los Merengues to only two goals should be considered impressive due to the fact the Bernabeu club had struck 19 in their previous four Liga encounters.
In midweek, progress in the Copa del Rey was assured in typically comfortable fashion. After a surprise 0-0 draw in Murcia, los Blancos found their scoring touch in front of their home fans on Wednesday, ramming five goals past their Segunda B opponents.
Even in the midst of an easy victory, Mourinho’s winning spirit was quite apparent as he was sent to the stands for dissent, and though he won’t want his players to be ill-disciplined, he will hope that some of his super-competitive edge is reflected in their play at all times.
The good news for Manuel Preciado, who had a bout of flu earlier this week, is that he could have a full panel of players to select from on Sunday. Roberto Canella and Sergio Alvarez are both training normally, while all those players previously registering physical discomfort - Ivan Hernandez, Alberto Botia, Sergio Matabuena and Nacho Novo - should be up for selection too.
After victory in midweek, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has not registered any new injury problems, though los Blancos did train behind closed doors on Friday. Jerzy Dudek, Kaka, Ezequiel Garay, Mateos and Fernando Gago all missed the midweek clash due to injuries.
Mesut Oezil, Sami Khedira, Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho will all return to the squad after being rested in midweek.
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