Sports Football 16 Jan 2016 Real Madrid look for ...

Real Madrid look for another big win

AFP | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Jan 16, 2016, 1:12 am IST
Updated Jan 16, 2016, 1:12 am IST
Real Madrid’s new coach Zinedine Zidane (centre) with Gareth Bale (left) and Luka Modric during training. (Photo: AFP)
 Real Madrid’s new coach Zinedine Zidane (centre) with Gareth Bale (left) and Luka Modric during training. (Photo: AFP)

Madrid: After the rousing success of a 5-0 win over Deportivo la Coruna on his managerial debut last weekend, more of the same is expected from Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid at home to Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

The club was rocked on Thursday by a one-year transfer ban handed down by FIFA.

Of more immediate concern for the 10-time European champions, though, is their pursuit of Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at the top of La Liga and, fortunately for Zidane, the Frenchman already has a hugely talented squad at his disposal.

Gareth Bale struck his second hat-trick in four games and Karim Benzema took his tally for the season to 18 goals in as many matches as Zidane got off a dream start against Deportivo just days after replacing the sacked Rafael Benitez.

"The change of coach has suited us well. Hopefully 2016 will be a great year for Real Madrid," said captain Sergio Ramos.

Zidane has a full compliment of players to choose from and Madrid will be out for revenge after being surprisingly held 0-0 by Sporting on their first match back in the top-flight on the opening day of the season.

Barcelona lead Real by two points and have a game in hand on their eternal rivals, but face a tougher task this weekend when they host Athletic Bilbao visit the Camp Nou.

The Basques denied Barca a clean sweep of silverware in 2015 on their last visit to the Camp Nou by sealing a 5-1 win in the Spanish Super Cup in August.

Lionel Messi will present his record fifth Ballon d'Or to the home fans before kick-off.

However, Neymar, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique were all rested and will return, as will Luis Suarez, who was suspended for the visit to Cornella-El Prat.

League leaders Atletico travel to Las Palmas looking for their ninth win in their last 10 league games on Sunday.

Fixtures: (all times IST) Saturday: Sevilla v Malaga (8:30pm), Celta Vigo v Levante (10:45pm), Sunday: Villarreal v Real Betis (1:00am), Real Sociedad v Deportivo (2:35am), Valencia v Rayo Vallecano (4:30pm), Real Madrid v Sporting Gijon (8:30pm), Las Palmas v Atletico Madrid (10:45pm), Getafe v Espanyol (10:45pm), Monday: Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao (1:00am), Tuesday: Eibar v Granada (1:00am)

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