Sporting Gijon v Real Madrid – El Molinon at 19:30 live on Sky Sports 3
A new era is dawning at Real Madrid with Rafa Benitez charged with taking Los Blancos forward. Understandably, many fans were far from pleased with the appointment of a man that’s failed to land a league title in 11 years or even finished in the top-two since 2008/09.
However, Madrid don’t suddenly fall apart overnight and although the capital club finished last season trophy-less under Carlo Ancelotti, it’s worth pointing out they finished just two points behind eventual La Liga champions and bitter rivals Barcelona.
Benitez has been tweaking the side over the summer and we’re likely to see a more disciplined and hard-working set-up with the aim to destroy sides on the counter-attack. Gareth Bale’s been given a free role to roam and Cristiano Ronaldo his favoured position on the left wing.
Karim Benzema and Pepe will both be missing for the curtain-raiser but Real have displayed an incredible mean streak in grinding out results away to newly-promoted sides. Over the previous five campaigns, Los Blancos have returned W13-D2-L0 figures at La Liga newcomers but intriguingly ran out winners by more than two goals on only four occasions.
Sporting Gijon are back in the big time and their historic El Molinon home will be jumping on Sunday night. The Rojiblancos supporters generate a terrific atmosphere at their Asturias home and Abelardo Fernández’s men will be desperate to get their season started with a positive result.
Gijon finished runners-up in Segunda last season playing an enterprising brand of football, were ruthless in putting away the lesser lights and solid on home soil. The hosts returned W14-D6-L1 figures when welcoming sides to El Molinon and Fernández’s troops suffered just two defeats overall, conceding a league-best 27 goals.
The expectation is understandably for Real to cut loose and open their account with a comfortable victory on the road. But it may pay to go against the grain and find a way of supporting Gijon. The Rojiblancos are available to back at 2.17 off a +1.50 Asian Handicap start and looks an ideal solution considering Madrid only won 39% of their road trips by two goals or more across Carlo Ancelotti’s reign.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Sporting Gijon +1.5 at 2.17
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