Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has named his 20-man squad for Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup clash with Sevilla. The highly anticipated match is the first real competitive clash of the new season for Real Madrid.
The match, which is set to take place at Lerkendal Stadion in Trondheim, offers Madrid the opportunity to claim their third UEFA Super Cup title, while Sevilla are in the hunt for their third, having lost the last two finals to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
While neither side can really be expected to be fully in form, cup competitions like these are a welcome reminder to fans that the new club season is just around the corner.
Zidane is still without many of the key pieces of his team. He will field a team without Cristiano Ronaldo or Pepe, both of who are on extended holiday following their exploits in Euro 2016. Midfielder Tony Kroos was also left out of the squad along with Gareth Bale, as both are still in the process of regaining fitness. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas is injured and has been replaced in the squad by Zidane’s son, Luca.
With Ronaldo and Bale absent and Jese Rodriquez having completed his move to Paris Saint-Germain, the attacking impetus will be on Karim Benzema. The French striker was left out of Les Bleus squad for the Euros and hasn’t really featured in Madrid’s preseason.
Whether he will start or come off the bench remains to be seen as Zidane attempts to juggle his other attacking options, which include Lucas Vazquez, Alvaro Morata and Mariano.
Tuesday’s clash will also give us our first look at Sevilla after Unai Emery. The Spanish tactician, who led Sevilla to three consecutive Europa League titles, has departed for PSG. His successor, Jorge Sampaoli is cut from a similar cloth tactically, and arrives in Spain having led Chile to back-to-back Copa America titles.
The Argentine manager prefers an approach that differs somewhat from Emery’s, but has had precious little time to stamp his style on his new team. Sevilla have also lost several key players including Kevin Gameiro, Evan Banega and Grzegorz Krychowiak.
However Sampaoli has signed a host of promising Argentine talent including the likes of Franco Vazquez, Gabriel Mercado, Luciano Vietto and Matias Kranevitter. The change in personnel is in-line with a tactical adjustment that’s likely to see Sevilla abandon the counterattacking style it employed so successfully under Emery in favor of a more possession-based one.
But whether it will it be enough to see them past a somewhat depleted Real Madrid team heading into their first full season under Zidane remains to be seen.
You can watch Real Madrid taking on Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup this Tuesday, August 9 at 2:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.