MX23RW : Saturday, December 15 23:45:48

Preview: Valerenga Futboll vs. Real Madrid

Sports Mole looks ahead to Real Madrid's final pre-season outing with Norwegian outfit Valerenga ahead of the new Liga season.

On Sunday, Real Madrid travel to Norway for a clash with Valerenga Fotball in what represents the Spanish giants' last pre-season outing before the 2015-16 campaign begins.

Victory may not be as simple as it seems on paper, though, with the Oslo-based side currently second in the Norwegian top flight as they chase a first league title since 2005.


Valerenga Futbol

New generic football image© Getty Images

Valerenga Futbol welcome a world superpower to their modest 28,000-seater Ullevaal Stadion on Sunday but manager Kjetil Rekdal may prefer if the encounter did not happen.

Rekdal's men are midway through their top-flight season, with Valerena second in the Tippeligaen table behind Rosenborg but a six-point gap separates them.

With 12 games left in the calendar - 11 for Sunday's hosts, who beat Tromsoe 1-0 today - the window of opportunity for the Bohemians to end 10 years of hurt is closing.

For the players, the visit of Real Madrid provides arguably one of the highlights of their careers but with the prospect of ending their 10-year wait for a sixth league title looming, Rekdal may view Rafael Benitez and co as a hindrance more than anything else.

Recent form: LWWWLW


Real Madrid

Napoli's coach from Spain Rafael Benitez reacts during the Italian Serie A football match between AS Roma and Napoli on April 4, 2015© Getty Images

It seems a long time ago that Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid beat bitter rivals Atletico Madrid to clinch their 10th Champions League title. What a difference 14 months make.

Redemption is the theme for Los Blancos as they come into the 2015-16 season with a score to settle with Barcelona, who pipped them to every major title last time around to leave Ancelotti out of the job and Real with a number of questions to ponder.

Eyebrows were raised in June when Benitez was drafted in to replace axed Ancelotti, who 13 months previously had led Real to the elusive Decima - 10th Champions League crown - and also the Copa del Rey after pipping Barca in the final.

The Italian's dismissal seemed harsh, but a refusal to settle for second best is the quality which has cemented Real's status as the most successful club in the history of Spanish football. Thirty-two Liga titles, 10 European Cups, 19 Copa del Reys - ruthlessness from the club's hierarchy is behind many of those trophies.

History illustrates that Real do not stay down for long. This time, Benitez is entrusted with the task of lifting them once more as they look to ensure that the Catalans' reign of supremacy is as brief as possible - and the Spaniard has enjoyed a solid start based on the club's pre-season outings.

They have swept aside Manchester City, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur in different pre-season tournaments, before a 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena slowed their momentum somewhat.

Little will be made of their result against Valerenga on Sunday, whether it is an emphatic victory or heavy defeat, but it is one last chance for Benitez to survey his new squad before the arduous battle for domestic and continental supremacy begins.

Recent form: WWWDWW

Pre-season form (all competitions): LWWWL


Team News

Real Madrid's Portuguese defender Pepe celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs Valencia CF at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 9, 2015© Getty Images

Benitez is sweating on the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Pepe ahead of the new season, with all three expected to miss Sunday's trip to Norway.

Ronaldo and Benzema sat out both Audi Cup games with Spurs and Bayern through injury, with back and thigh complaints sidelining the duo.

Meanwhile, defender Pepe lasted just 16 minutes of the defeat in Munich before being replaced, with scans confirming that the Portuguese suffered a muscle injury.

Valerenga possible starting lineup:
Burchet; Kristiansen, Tollaas Nation, Lundstroem, Waehler; Zahid, Stengel, Braaten, Grindheim; Mathisen, Brown

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Navas, Carvajal, Nacho, Ramos, Marcelo, Casemiro, Lucas, Kroos, Cheryshev, Isco, Jese


Head To Head

This will be the first ever meeting between the sides.


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We say: Valerenga 1-4 Real Madrid

By virtue of the fact that the hosts are midway through their domestic league, the visit of Real Madrid is far from a priority game for Kjetil Rekdal and co. Consequently, the Blancos should come up against a relatively apathetic Valerenga side this weekend, and we reckon that a three-goal victory is on the cards.


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Who will win Sunday's clash in Oslo?

Valerenga
Draw
Real Madrid
Valerenga
9.0%
Draw
7.1%
Real Madrid
83.8%
Jese for Real Madrid on January 15, 2015
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