Sevilla, Real Madrid prepare for European Supercup
Posted on Aug 11 2014 | IANS
Madrid, Aug 11 : Sevilla and Real Madrid will play for their first title of the new football season Tuesday when the two Spanish clubs contest the European Supercup in Cardiff.
The traditional game between the winners of the Europa League and the Champions League should serve as a barometer of the two sides' warm ups going into the new campaign, but with two weeks before the start of Spain's domestic BBVA Primera Liga, it is by no means a definitive demonstration of form, reports Xinhua.
Several Real Madrid players, such as Sami Khedira, Tony Kroos, Angel Di Maria and James Rodriguez only began training with their companions a week ago and as defender Alvaro Arbeloa confessed, his companions are not "in their best physical shape."
After a summer with no World Cup distractions, Gareth Bale has been the pick of the Real Madrid squad so far and the Welshman has already spoken of the extra motivation of playing in his hometown in front of his family and friends.
Another player who has spent the summer working to get to full fitness is Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese international is expected to start after a summer suffering from a knee injury.
A certain starter for Real Madrid is goalkeeper Iker Casillas and the club captain needs a good performance after ending last season out of form, yet nonetheless 'winning' his battle against Diego Lopez to be first choice keeper.
Lopez is on his way to AC Milan but Casillas can't relax as the club has signed Costa Rican international Kaylor Navas to contest the keeper's jersey. With Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti non-committal over who will start the league after Casillas' nightmare against Manchester United a week ago, anything other than a good display will increase the pressure on a man many are now starting to doubt.
Sevilla go into the game as underdogs, which is probably how their coach Unai Emery would prefer things to be. The Europa League champions lost star player Ivan Rakitic to Barcelona over the summer and the Croatian will be tough to replace.
Nevertheless, the club has signed well with players such as Denis Suarez arriving from Barcelona, while strikers Carlos Bacca and Kevin Gameiro have the firepower to trouble any defence, especially one lacking match practice.
Emery's side have also had more time working together in pre-season and at this early stage of the campaign that is an advantage which should not be overlooked.