The French manager and his band of Galacticos will be itching to hit back after a miserable 2018/19 campaign that saw Los Merengues finish 3rd in La Liga and 19 points behind eventual champions and El Clasico rivals Barcelona, whilst they also suffered heavy defeats that led to premature exits in the Copa Del Rey and Champions League to Barca and Ajax respectively.
Boss Zinedine Zidane returned to replace Santiago Solari sometimes in March following his departure last summer but even he failed to make an immediate impact in terms of results.
However, better times are now surely around the corner for Real, who won nine major honours under Zizou between 2015-2018, including three consecutive Champions League crowns.
It also helps in no small measure that the World Cup winner has had a full pre-season to assess his squad and welcome a raft of exciting new faces to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Eden Hazard’s £90m move from Chelsea is clearly the marquee signing of the bunch, with the 28-year-old lifting the Europa League in his last game with the Londoners. Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Rodrygo and Ferland Mendy are the other new recruits and all could play a part at Balaidos this Saturday, except Eden Hazard.
BREAKING: Eden Hazard is out of Real Madrid’s first game of the season pic.twitter.com/LfPzqSy5hS
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 16, 2019
Real Madrid begin their 2019/20 season with a potentially tricky tie away to Celta Vigo and with the talismanic new Number 7 likely to miss out, Zizou will be forced to consider other attacking options to help the team’s cause.
Among the players the Real manager can call on to replace the Belgian forward are Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, both of whom were not expected to still be at the club as the season begins.
816 days have passed since the Colombian midfielder last played for Real Madrid and if given the chance to play, it will be James’ first game for Madrid in 27 months.
It’s a miracle that Gareth Bale is still a Madrid player after sparkling endless rounds of transfer talk this summer, but it appears he may now have an important role to play.
The ugly situation made Zidane admit about Bale: “It seemed that he was going, but now he is with us.
“Things change and now I will be using him as much as the other players in the squad. I’m going to use all the players I’ve got.
“He is registered with us and he is a good player. I hope all the players here want to make things difficult for me.”
THROWBACK: Will Gareth Bale again prove he’s worthy for Real Madrid? pic.twitter.com/CtGxig60Zo
— D9INE (@D9INE_FUTBOL) August 17, 2019
The Blancos boss added on Colombia international James who spent the last two years on loan at Bayern Munich: “He is fit and we are happy to have him in the squad.
“I’ll repeat what I said before – I have a big squad and I’ll use all the players. They’re all happy to be here.”
Celta Vigo is never an easy place to visit for Los Merengues and with the Madrid boss still blooding his new crop and finding his best XI, an interesting afternoon awaits.
The French legend’s immediate challenge seems however not to be in attack but in how to bring some defensive stability to his side.
While it’s foolhardy to read too much into pre-season match-ups, Los Merengues were beaten by the likes of Bayern Munich, Tottenham and Atletico Madrid over the summer – the latter contest ending 3-7 in favour of their cross-city adversaries.
It’s clear that Zidane is someway off getting things right.
Saturday’s foes have had a fairly quiet summer by all accounts and boss Fran Escriba’s target this season will be to establish themselves as a midtable side, following last term relegation scare.
The Spanish manager did an incredible job to steer the club away from the threat of relegation after a woeful run under former boss Miguel Cardoso, and they will take confidence into this weekend’s encounter after finishing the season strongly – particularly at Balaidos where they accrued 13 points from their final five outings.
Of course, it does not help to see your star striker Maxi Gomez depart for Valencia over the summer, however the Sky Blues impressed by pulling the talented Santi Mina in the opposite direction to re-join Celta after a four year stint at Mestalla. Mina should form a dangerous partnership with Iago Aspas up front for the Celts.
Historically, Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid has been one of the most thrilling match-ups in Spanish football.
The last ten meetings between the pair have produced a massive 45 goals, including a 2-4 victory for Real here last term.
Indeed, Real attackers always enjoy facing Celta with Madrid having only failed to score at least twice in just one of their last 11 games against Celestes.
Los Merengues have also won ten of their last 13 games away to Celta.
Real Madrid have gone 10 seasons without losing their first LaLiga Game.
— GRADA FANS DE KERALA (@gradafanskerala) August 17, 2019
Celta Vigo are no slobs either having scored in all but one of their last ten La Liga games, while Real have scored and conceded in each of their last six trips to the Balaidos.
Five of the last six meetings between the two have produced over 3.5 goals
There’s no reason why fans who love to see goals would not be entertained in what promises to be another thrilling encounter in the La Liga.