Real Madrid are set to begin their 2016-17 La Liga season at Real Sociedad on Sunday without five key players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Keylor Navas.

Madrid have won two of the last three Champions League trophies, but claimed just one La Liga title since 2008, with main rivals Barcelona winning six of the most recent eight and Atletico Madrid champions in 2013-14.

Zinedine Zidane’s team’s bid for a good start on Sunday to improve upon that record is not helped by Portugal stars Ronaldo and Pepe not having returned to full training yet following Euro 2016, Benzema and Navas missing injured, and Luka Modric out suspended.

Gareth Bale is likely to start at Anoeta despite just an hour of football played in preseason after his summer exertions with Wales, while back-ups last term James Rodriguez, Isco, Raphael Varane and Kiko Casilla could all benefit from the absences of more regular starters under Zidane.

After Friday’s session at Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground, a club statement did not suggest that any of the club’s injured players were set for surprise recoveries, while again giving no detail on Benzema’s worrying hip complaint or Navas’ recovery from a heel operation carried out back in early June.

Cristiano Ronaldo

“Real Madrid completed their penultimate training session before their visit to Anoeta in their first game in La Liga (Sunday, 8:15pm CEST),” the statement said. “Zidane included Mariano and Odegaard in a session which saw ball work take centre stage.

“Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Coentrao undertook personalised training programmes out on the pitch, while Benzema trained using the indoor facilities.

“Before the start of the session, Carlos Megia Davila, Real Madrid’s official refereeing advisor, spoke to the team about the regulations for the new season.

“Once on the pitch the Whites undertook a full warm-up, before carrying out passing and pressing drills. Afterwards, they split into three groups and completed a foot-volley drill. This was followed by crossing, finishing and rondo style pressing drills. They rounded up the session by practising shots at goal.”

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