Real Madrid have begun preparations ahead of the 2016/2017 season which holds great potential for more success on the pitch. Zinedine Zidane will hope to get his team firing on all cylinders from the start, with tough pre-season games against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Bayern Munich likely to provide excellent tests ahead of the challenges that Los Blancos will have to face as the campaign goes by. The club’s rich history of success, along with the level of quality across the squad, is likely to result in Coral installing Real Madrid amongst the strong favourites in all four competitions they will compete in this season, but although the team ended last season with a superb run of form that culminated in winning the Champions League Final, Zidane will know that his team will have to avoid any slip-ups.
The battle for La Liga supremacy
Twelve straight wins was a fantastic way for Real Madrid to end their domestic league campaign, but their efforts proved to be in vain as Barcelona won the title by just one point. Dropping points against Malaga and Real Betis proved to be costly, as did the shaky start to the campaign under Rafa Benitez who struggled to get the players on board to his way of thinking. This is in complete contrast to Zidane who has developed a real rapport with the team, and if Los Blancos carry their form from last season into the new campaign, then it would be difficult to see anyone keeping up with them at the top.
Lifting the first league title in five years will arguably be Real Madrid’s first priority this season, with the club enduring one of its longest barren spells without lifting the La Liga trophy aloft. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are likely to provide the main competition once again, with the former going into the upcoming season as the defending champions that Zidane will hope to knock off their perch. All three have the quality to take the title race down to the wire, but if Zidane can continue to grow as a manager of one of the biggest clubs in the world, then Real Madrid could finish the 2016/2017 season as La Liga champions.
Champions of Europe again?
It has been sixteen years since AC Milan became the last team to win back-to-back Champions League trophies, and although Real Madrid’s triumph over city rivals Atletico in the 2016 Final extended our proud record as the most successful club in the competition, defending champions often find it difficult to go all the way the second time around. Real Madrid certainly have the quality to mount a serious challenge again, particularly with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in superb goal-scoring form. Ronaldo’s untimely injury may prevent Real Madrid from making a blistering start in the other competitions, but there is enough quality within the team to feel confident that Los Blancos will be able to make it through the Champions League group stages without the 2014 Ballon d’Or winner.
Having the super star back fit and raring to go ahead of the knock-out stages could prove to be crucial as there is always the potential for upsets; losing 2-0 at Wolfsburg in the first leg of the Quarter Finals is proof, if needed, that there are many pitfalls in the latter stages. A number of potential challengers have also made significant changes at managerial and player level, with sports results in the early rounds likely to provide an indication as to who Real Madrid’s greatest threats will be this season. Fans can check them here on Coral’s website to keep tabs on who look like real contenders, with Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Juventus to name just three clubs who will target European glory this season.
First game, first trophy?
Real Madrid have a great opportunity to kick off the 2016/2017 with silverware in the UEFA Super Cup again perennial Europa League winners Sevilla. It could set a tone for the entire campaign if the team are able to return from the Lerkendal Stadion in the Norwegian city of Trondheim with the trophy, although a repeat of the 2014 Final will not be easy against a team who have become difficult to beat. It remains to be seen how Sevilla play under Jorge Sampaoli, with the former Chile manager taking over in Andalusia following Unai Emery’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain, but Zidane will know the importance of starting the season on the right foot. Ronaldo will indefinitely miss out following the knee injury picked up in the Euro 2016 Final in which Portugal triumphed over host nation France, but if Bale, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos replicate their superb performances this summer in Real Madrid colours, then Los Blancos could be victorious like they were two years ago.
Copa Del Rey redemption
We will never know how far Real Madrid’s strong performances in the Copa Del Rey last season will have taken the club following the RFEF’s decision to throw Los Blancos out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player against Cadiz. Denis Cheryshev, who was banned after picking up his third yellow card during a loan spell at Villarreal during the 2014/2015 season, played the first half in Andalusia and opened the scoring before Benitez was made aware of the administrative error and subsequently took the Russian winger off. It did not prevent Cadiz from making an official complaint which led to Real Madrid being thrown out, and although the Copa Del Rey may not be high on Zidane’s list of priorities this season, it is more silverware that would make his progress as a manager look even more impressive.