Goal Gazette

Watch: Lucas Vázquez Scores Amazing Goal | Almeria 1-1 Real Madrid

Most managers, and indeed most fans, of any team will tell you that earning promotion is all about facing the best in the world. For Almería and manager Rubi though, they would probably have preferred not to be hosting the reigning Liga and European champions on their first home game back in the top flight, which is available in the US on ESPN.

Almería nicked the Segunda title last season on goal difference and are perhaps the best-equipped of the newly promoted sides to maintain their Primera status given Rubi’s balanced and experienced squad.

However, Madrid are unlikely to be handing out any favours as they start their title defence and although Carlo Ancelotti will rotate in Almería after playing in the European Super Cup midweek, such is the strength of Madrid’s squad that it is difficult to see far beyond a rude top-flight awakening for the home side.

Ancelotti goes into the season with a full squad and no injury concerns, a luxury the Italian will surely exploit in Almería with a tricky away fixture at Celta up next. The home side are also in good shape with only Juanjo and Ivan Martos unavailable, and Brazilian forward Leo Baptistão, formerly of Atlético Madrid, could be in line for a debut after joining from Santos in the off-season.

Almería are back in the top flight for the first time since 2014-15 and survival is the only objective for Rubi’s side. Like other promoted clubs in recent years, La Unión will be buoyed by the fact that every other team in LaLiga is as cash-strapped as they are and there are at least six candidates for the drop, making their task a little less daunting.

That said, anything other than an away win on Sunday will wreck a million accumulators and a repeat of the 3-0 defeat Almería swallowed when the sides last met in Primera seven years ago is not out of the question.

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Goal Gazette