Sunday, December 10, 2023

No Ronaldo, but plenty of options as Real Madrid kick off in San Sebastian

Madrid, Aug 20 (IANS) Real Madrid will kick off their campaign without Cristiano Ronaldo but with a wealth of attacking talent when they take on Spanish football club Real Sociedad in the Basque side’s Anoeta Stadium on Sunday evening.

Ronaldo is still putting the finishing touches to his recovery following this summer’s European Championship, but Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has plenty of options to partner the 27-year-old Gareth Bale in attack, reports Xinhua.

The 23-year-old Spanish Alvaro Morata returned to Madrid this summer, while the club has also decided the time has come for the young talent Marcos Asensio to remain in the first team squad.

Meanwhile Colombian James Rodriguez, who may or may not move on before the end of the month, and Isco offer further options as Zidane looks to put his attack together.

Croatian Luka Modric missed the first game of the new campaign through a suspension carried over from the end of last season while Zidane may prefer not to risk Pepe, who has carried an injury in recent days, and give a start to Rafael Varene.

Finally Kiko Casilla will play in goal as Keylor Navas finishes his recovery from close-season ankle surgery.

Real Madrid have enjoyed recent visits to San Sebastian and have only lost three times in their last 20 visits.

It has been a quiet summer for Real Sociedad, although the arrival of Brazilian striker William Jose from Las Palmas looks to have given the side extra firepower in attack as the 29-year-old Imanol Agirretxe looks to get to full fitness.

However, on Sunday all eyes will be on 19-year-old striker Mikel Oyarzabal, who on Friday signed a contract extension in the face of rumoured interest from Athletic Club Bilbao.

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