It's tough to fully preview a team's fixture list once it is released as so many things can change from one week to the next. A matchup may look simple one day, but injuries and suspensions can derail that notion and suddenly that same matchup is doe-or-die test. In a lot of ways, an in-depth preview of something with so many variables is somewhat pointless. That being said, it doesn't hurt to have some fun and look ahead down the line to see what Real Madrid's most significant matches are (on paper) for the 2015-2016 season.
Real Madrid's complete match schedule for the 2015/16 La Liga season. [note: the dates are not finalised]. pic.twitter.com/ti6nTmTbxm— Real Madrid Stats (@RMadrid_Stats) July 14, 2015
Matchday 1 - August 23 v. Sporting Gijon (a)
Real Madrid starts the new season on the road at freshly promoted Sporting Gijon. As Lucas wrote, this could be a potentially tough match given Gijon's form last season and Madrid putting into use a new system on the road right off the bat, but the quality of Los Blancos should be enough to see them through. One thing to keep in mind: of the last four meetings between these two clubs, three saw a red card given to Sporting Gijon for their rough play. This one could turn ugly.
Matchday 7 - October 4 v. Atletico Madrid (a)
The first meeting of the Madrid rivalry and it will take place at the Calderon. Real Madrid should, theoriticall, be coming into this one in better shape as the schedule leading up to it is much easier for Los Blancos as opposed to Simeone's men who will have already faced Sevilla, Barcelona and Villareal in a brutal early start. Given this fact and that Atleti seem to be working through bigger roster changes, Real Madrid might be the very slight favorites.
Matchday 11 - November 1 v. Sevilla (a)
Sevilla on the road will serve as Rafa Benitez's brutal warmup to his first Clasico as Real Madrid manager. A lot could change from now until then, but this is about as unappealing of a fixture as it gets for Madrid given that the following week sees Barcelona come to town. It is true that Real Madrid beat Sevilla on the road this past season but that took a Herculean effort from Cristiano Ronaldo to win the three points. A tough test.
Matchday 12 - November 8 v. Barcelona (h)
The first Clasico of the season. A positive to note is that though Madrid has to face Sevilla in the previous fixture, Barcelona will have a tough test as well with Villarreal coming to town. Additionally, Barcelona will be without the services of Arda Turan and its other signings, though perhaps it would've been better for Madrid to have not faced them in the road Clasico. Either way, this is always a difficult affair.
Matchday 18 - January 3 v. Valencia (a)
Just like last season, the first match following the winter break will be Valencia on the road. Last season, Valencia won 2-1 in what many saw as the beginning of the end for the 2014-2015 Real Madrid season. If you're a glass half full type of person, you can take solace in the fact that Real Madrid won't have a Club World Cup tournament to contend with and will have more time to rest during the break, but this will be a stern welcome back from the respite.
Matchday 26 - February 28 v. Atletico Madrid (h)
Real Madrid comes into this one having faced Malaga while Atleti faced Villarreal in the previous matchday. A must-win match as always for both sides.
Matchday 30 - March 20 v. Sevilla (h)
A second consecutive tuneup leading up to a Clasico affair. It should help that Madrid has Las Palmas in the match leading up to this one while Sevilla has Villarreal. Speaking of Villarreal, Barcelona faces them on this same day in their tuneup to the big match in the following fixture.
Matchday 31 - April 3 v. Barcelona (a)
The two-week layoff could be seen as both a good thing or a bad thing for the sides depending on the circumstances. One thing to worry about is that the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals will take place on April 5 and 6. Given these two clubs' quality, this might play a big factor in how they approach this match.
Matchday 35 - April 24 v. Rayo Vallecano (a)
A potential trip-up game for Benitez's men as it's the second of two consecutive fixtures (the first being Villarral just four days prior). Rayo gave many clubs fits this past season with its aggressive and relentless style and as this is the part of the season when fixtures become extremely congested, they could serve as a big stumbling block for Madrid. Important to note is that the Champions League semifinals take place on April 26 and 27.
Matchday 37 - May 8 v. Valencia (h)
A potential formality if the season plays out well, or a final test in a tight league race. It's usually nice to have the last couple fixtures be easy ones in the case of Madrid needing to end the season strong to win the title or put pressure on the leaders, but it is what it is this season. The following fixture is Deportivo on the road so Benitez may go all out to win the three points here.
All in all, the weeks surrounding the Clasico will be tough but Madrid shouldn't have too many complaints otherwise. The difficult fixtures are relatively spaced out while the beginning of the season has enough lower-tier opponents who should provide as good learning opportunities for Benitez and his squad. Of course, matches aren't won on paper and we do have to keep in mind the Champions League and Copa del Rey fixtures, but this season the league fixture list shouldn't serve as an excuse if things go belly up.
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