PREVIEW | Real and Atletico to battle it out in a Madrid-derby Super Cup

IANS

Champions League winners Real Madrid and Europa League champions Atletico Madrid go head to head for the European Supercup in the Estonian capital of Tallin on Wednesday night.

The first Madrid football derby of the season promises to give an insight into both sides’ chances in the forthcoming La Liga Santander season which kicks off this weekend in Spain.

The beginning of the post-Ronaldo era

The clash also gives fans the chance to see what to expect of Real Madrid in the ‘post-Ronaldo’ era. Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus should give greater opportunities for both Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema and after being criticized last season, the signs are that both players have so far benefitted from the Portuguese’s move.

Atletico’s ‘new’ signings

Despite going quietly about their business, Atletico’s transfer window may have been the most successful of any Spanish side this summer.

Simeone reinforced his team in key positions across the pitch, bringing in some hugely promising names: Rodri was a rock in Villarreal’s midfield last season, Thomas Lemar attracted interest from across Europe before Atletico swooped to buy him from Monaco and Gelson Martins has plenty of potential at 23.

What to expect

Neither team is up to full speed this pre-season with players such as Luka Modric, Rafael Varane, and Antoine Griezmann only recently returning to full training after their World Cup exploits this summer. But the game will be a chance to see how Rodrigo Fernandez performs in the heart of the Atletico midfield and perhaps for Madrid’s young Brazilian winger, Vinicius Jr to try and stake a place in the first team squad.

Real Madrid have travelled to Estonia with all 29 available players with only the injured right-back Alvaro Odriozola remaining in the capital as new coach Julen Lopetegui looks to avoid giving any hints over who could be cut from the squad before the end of August.

Thibaut Courtois could add a dash of spice to a fixture which rarely needs any extra ingredients, if the former Atletico keeper makes his Real Madrid debut following his move from Chelsea. Moreover, his inclusion would put the Belgian in pole position to kick off the season in goal ahead of Keylor Navas when Real Madrid take on Getafe this weekend.

Possible starting XIs

Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Casemiro, Kroos, Bale, Isco, Asensio, Benzema

Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Juanfran, Godin, Savic, Luis, Koke, Saul, Rodri, Lemar, Costa, Kalinic

Prediction

This is a tough match to predict given Real have won the past two consecutive Super Cups and Atletico have a 100 percent win record in the competition. It will be a fierce encounter, even if it feels closer to a preseason trophy than a genuine European clash.

Asensio, Benzema and Bale have had more time to gel and they could punish Atletico’s backline. Simeone’s side will defend staunchly and may take the lead but Madrid’s new-look attack will have the final say. Although it is still early days Wednesday promises to see sparks fly on the pitch and some conclusions to be drawn off it.

 

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Source: Matchday Frolics
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