Barcelona close to sign former Real Madrid star

The summer has proven to be a tough ask already for Valverde, but the quality still available in Barca's ranks suggests that the coach has plenty at his disposal in order to get things right this term. "We didn't lose because of a single piece of play".

"He's very demanding but it's a big pleasure to work with him and he's done an wonderful job since he joined Real Madrid". During this period, they scored a massive 32 goals, while conceding just 7.

If last season his arrival brought an undeniable excitement among most fans, the confirmation of his talent has only increased this interest, taking it to nearly over-hyped levels.

There are two players who are sure to miss the league opener this weekend.

If preseason training used to be about preparing players for the physical rigors of the year ahead, these days clubs like Real also use this time in the football calendar to think about their global marketing footprint.

Their squad depth was underlined by the fact coach Zinedine Zidane was able to also leave out Gareth Bale and Isco in the second leg. After Zidane's appointment, the club has reached new heights, and interestingly, that too without their usual glitz and glamour approach. Having said that, Claudio Ranieri won the prestigious award last year, after leading Leicester to their first ever top-flight title in their 16-year history.

They will need to be far more resilient this season and they will need to concede far less than 61 goals.

Eduardo is one of ESPN FC's Real Madrid bloggers and has been a socio since 1995.

The club also posted videos of a minute's silence held by players and coaching staff at the team's Camp Tito Vilanova training ground with similar memorials being held at academy grounds Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper and The Masia. There will be a minute's silence before the games, but once the ball starts rolling gets under way these are four things to look out for.

The summer started well as the club wasted no time in naming former Athletic Club Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde as the replacement for Luis Enrique, bringing in a man who had not only played for the club, but who also is known for employing the high-pressure, passing game that has always been Barca's trademark. It's gone from 18th place in 2014-15 to 14th the year after, and then the club finished a respectable 10th place last season after spending much of the season in the top seven spots.

While there is no doubt he is Los Blancos' talisman, they are anything but a one-man team.

They defeated Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup by 2:1, while defeating bitter rivals Barcelona in the Spanish super cup, in both legs, with the final score being 5:1 on aggregate.

On 21-year-old Asensio, Zidane added: "He is doing phenomenally well every time he comes in".

Speaking ahead of Sunday's match, Zidane stopped short of acknowledging Real Madrid's all-conquering squad as "the best in the world".

Young center-back Jesus Vallejo is sidelined due to injury, while Mateo Kovacic trainer alone and is doubtful. Or has Pepe Mel put together a more organised side?