While Real Madrid doesn't usually start leagues out very well, Valencia has only collected wins in the first games of these past four years. But this time, they will be without coach Unai Emery, since Valencia's chairmen shockingly decided not to offer him a new contract. One could argue that Emery had reached Valencia's goals by finishing third in La Liga BBVA, but neither the press nor Mestalla were happy with the Basque coach, so President Manuel Llorente signed former Valencia defender Mauricio Pellegrino (yes, the one that missed the key penalty against Bayern Munich that could have meant the first Champions League for the bats).
This offseason has been a lot more quiet for the ché since, for once, they haven't sold their star player (remember Villa, Silva and Mata used to play for them?). But they have made some key adjustments in the roster to essentially improve what they had last year. They've signed Mexican attacker Andrés Guardado and also Portuguese National Team starting right back Joao Pereira.
But, of course, their main addition will be former Real Madrid midfielder Fernando Gago, who has enjoyed a key role in the team's preseason. If Pellegrino wants him to be the main playmaker, Valencia's project could turn into either something very bad or something really good. But it's probably too risky to trust Gago that much.
Valencia's potential lineup is just unknown. Roberto Soldado seems recovered from his injury, so he should be the starting striker against Mourinho's team, but Banega and Canales, two key playmakers will surely miss the game due to knee injuries. Banega had a pretty ridiculous accident with his car (he forgot to put the hand brake and the car ended up destroying his leg while he was refueling) and Canales broke his knee against Atlético Madrid just in his second game after his recovery.
That means that Guardado might have the chance to start at the Bernabéu. He is a really dangerous winger with a really finesse shot that could cause troubles to Real Madrid's defense. Feghouli and Jonas could be Guardado's partners in the attacking midfielders line, just behind Soldado.
Gago's partner is yet to be known, but Tino Costa could have the edge. Assuming that Pellegrino will play with a 4-2-3-1 formation, a Gago-Parejo partnership could be too much offensive-minded to play against Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu. Costa played well in last year's 0-0 draw, but Parejo was brilliant covering Xabi Alonso too. Valencia's captain David Albelda could provide an extra motivation to his teammates since he is one of the few players in Valencia's roster that remember how to beat a Real Madrid squad.
In the defensive line, Pellegrino should have an easy choice. New signing Joao Pereira will be the one that takes care of Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid's left wing, with Adil Rami, Víctor Ruiz and Jeremy Mathieu completing Valencia's defense. It will also be interesting to see which goalkeeper Pellegrino prefers. Guaita single-handedly prevented Real Madrid from getting the three points in their last meeting, so the odds seem to be in his favor.
It will not be easy for Real Madrid to start la Liga BBVA against Valencia CF, but if the players keep themselves focused on the three points and play the same way than in the past few preseason games, Mourinho's team should be able to walk away with a win.
Share your game-day predictions with us on Managing Madrid's facebook and twitter.