SPORTING GIJON 0 REAL MADRID 0
Rafa Benitez oversaw a disappointing goalless draw at Sporting Gijon last Sunday night in the first competitive fixture of his reign as Real Madrid manager. Real, who were without Karim Benzema due to a thigh injury, produced a somewhat disjointed performance in a match that was also the first since goalkeeper Iker Casillas’ departure to Porto. Gareth Bale, playing in a new central role, and Cristiano Ronaldo both threatened but Real were frustrated by the hosts, who largely limited their expensively-assembled opponents to long-range efforts. Boss Benitez commented afterwards that Real Madrid is “a work in progress”, and they next entertain Real Betis in a late night Saturday encounter that kicks-off at 10.30pm.