Monday night sees Real Madrid opening their La Liga season at home to newly promoted Cordoba, while defending champions Atletico Madrid start the campaign with a trip across the Spanish capital to Rayo Vallecano.
Real Madrid 1.07, draw 12.50, Cordoba 28.00
With Angel Di Maria now confirmed to be leaving, James Rodriguez could get another chance in midfield. Pepe, Marcelo, Alvaro Arbeloa and Asier Illarramendi could all get run-outs if Ancelotti rests players after their Supercopa exertions.
Cordoba coach Albert Ferrer is guaranteed a lively Bernabeu welcome given his Barcelona past. Ex-Madrid defender Raul Bravo surprisingly left Cordoba on Saturday so he won’t feature.
Madrid looked well tuned-up in the 2-0 European Super Cup win over Sevilla, but much less ready for the new season when losing 2-1 on aggregate to Atletico in the Spanish Supercopa last week. Ancelotti has been more tetchy than usual in public too while dealing with all the speculation around Di Maria.
Cordoba won just one of their six pre-season friendlies [against minnows Marbella], but it is difficult to draw too many conclusions as Ferrer had 13 new players to try and arrange.
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY
Ferrer: “If we play well we can get something. We must defend well and then try and when we get the ball try and hold possession to stay calm.”
Ancelotti: “The team is good, with the defence solid. We will not have problems with goals, they will come.”
Ronaldo’s dodgy knee
Concerns over Ronaldo’s fitness continue and he looked frustrated during his 45 minutes on Friday, even being lucky to avoid a red card for hitting out at Atletico’s Diego Godin.
It’s 42 years since Cordoba played at the Bernabeu and promoted teams often freeze there - Madrid won 11-0 on aggregate last season against the three new Primera sides.
Madrid 3-0 Cordoba at 6.25 – Madrid seem sure to win easily, but a real hammering looks unlikely.
Given the doubts over Ronaldo, and Karim Benzema’s one goal in his last 15 club games, odds of 4.90 on Gareth Bale opening the scoring are tempting.
Rayo Vallecano 6.75, draw 4.25, Atletico Madrid 1.50
For Atletico Raul Garcia is suspended, and Arda Turan not yet over a muscle problem, so youngster Saul Niguez should start in midfield against the club where he was on loan last term.
Rayo centre-back Antonio Amaya tore a thigh muscle this week. Leo Baptistao, back at Rayo for the season, is unable to play due to the fine-print in his loan deal from Atletico.
Atletico were excellent in the Supercopa, with the new players all contributing well and the same hunger and intensity which brought the title last season still present.
Rayo’s results in pre-season were up and down - with a 2-1 loss to Segunda side Real Valladolid last time out.
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY
Simeone, asked if Atletico favourites to retain the title: “Silence. Only silence.”
Jemez: “Atletico are a very good team. We must be brave when exposing ourselves, but we can beat them.”
Mario already firing
Diego Costa’s replacement Mario Mandzukic has started really well - scoring against Madrid on Friday and also showing the physical edge Simeone likes.
Rayo's learning curve
Rayo started last season awfully, with Jemez’s kamikaze tactics taking time to show results. Defensive issues are likely to arise again with Jemez having 16 new faces to integrate.
3-1 Atletico at 13.00. Rayo’s attacking approach could cause the defending champions some problems, but ultimately Simeone’s side should win easily.
Atletico beat Rayo 5-0 and 4-2 last season. There was a 4-3 the previous year. So get on over 3.5 goals at 3.00.
Read Dermot Corrigan's La Liga previews every week!