NEW YORK - AUGUST 08: Head coach Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid leaves the field after victory over A.C. Milan in their match at Yankee Stadium on August 8, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Real Madrid begin their title defense on Sunday against Valencia.
If Spain's big two are going to face anything that remotely resembles a challenge for the top two spots in La Liga this season, it should be apparent on Sunday. Valencia, almost universally regarded as the third best team in Spain yet again, opens their season with a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu to take on Real Madrid.
Los Che will be taking on the reigning champions without arguably their best two players, striker Roberto Soldado and midfielder Ever Banega. Nelson Valdez should get the start up top in Soldado's place, while Fernando Gago will almost certainly make his debut in midfield. Teenage starlet Paco Alcacer could make an appearance as well.
Madrid have a clean bill of health, even though a couple of their players almost got injured on international duty. Gonzalo Higuain and Pepe both got hurt during the short FIFA break, but should be fit to play against Valencia.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. local
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
TV: beIN Sport (U.S.)