Next rival: Middlesbrough


Middlesbrough are a club based on the coast of the North East of England who have just been promoted back to the Premier League after an absence of 7 seasons.   They finished in second place in the Championship last season with a record of Won 26, Draw 11 and lost 9 of the 46 games played.

Manager Aitor Karanka, who has been in place since November 2013, has made substantial changes to his squad since last season ended, making a total of eight new signings.  The most notable of which is Alvaro Negredo, who has arrived on loan from Valencia.

Other familiar faces arriving at Middlesbrough are Victor Valdés (formally Barca), Bernardo Espinosa (Sporting Gijon) and Antonio Barragán (Valencia).  Former Real Sociedad player Emilio Nsue is also a squad member at the club.

Middlesbrough were unbeaten throughout pre-season until they lost 2-1 against Real Betis in a tournament in Marbella, but to put this into perspective their opponents have not been the best quality.

Karanka has admitted that his central defence is not as strong as he would wish.  It will be interesting to see how they cope with Carlos Vela and Mikel Oyarzabal running straight at them, which is always a nightmare for an uncertain defence.

Real will need to be aware of Middlesbrough left winger Stewart Downing, a former England International, who is a strong crosser of the ball.  He is likely to try to beat our rIght full back, either Joseba Zaldua or Carlos Martinez, attempting to provide aerial service for strikers Alvaro Negredo and Jordan Rhodes.

The best way to counter this move will be to stop the cross being delivered, which should keep our right sided midfield busy.

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