Real Madrid travel to Real Sociedad in their La Liga opener on Saturday after lifting the European Super Cup last week.
For the second successive season, Real Madrid start their campaign without the arrival of a Galactico.
Alvaro Morata, welcomed back from Juventus and Marco Asensio, on loan at Espanyol, were both presented this week but not to crowds that summer target Paul Pogba would have attracted.
Given the fact that Madrid could be faced with a transfer ban, the talk of departures more than arrivals is surprising. It is expected that James Rodriguez or Isco will exit if a suitable offer is made for either.
It seems as though dust may well be gathering in president Florentino Perez’s office, though don’t be surprised to see him try and draw the attention back over to the Santiago Bernabeu before August 31.
Following Rafa Benitez’s bland reign, Zinedine Zidane secured Champions League triumph just five months after his appointment. The Frenchman has rejuvenated a slacking team and the players have clearly taken to their new boss.
Madrid’s strongest XI has not changed a bit from the way it finished last term. Keylor Navas in goal, Danilo at right-back, Marcelo left-back with Sergio Ramos and Pepe in central defence.
Casemiro’s rise as the overlooked key figure in the holding role under Zidane will continue alongside the advanced Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in midfield.
The exalted front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale make up the manager’s most trusted and favoured XI when all fit.
With Jese Rodriguez departed, Lucas Vazquez should feature more regularly and so too Asensio, who is certainly one to watch after performing superbly in Catalonia and convincing Zidane with his dazzling displays in pre-season.
Whilst the Champions League will remain the essential target and December’s Club World Cup offers them a chance to regain their world champions status, asserting their dominance on a domestic level is as crucial.
Incredibly by their standards, Madrid have won La Liga only once in the past eight years. Surely a priority, the pressure is on to be champions of Spain once again.