Two years after combining to bring a 10th European Cup to Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane will pit their wits against each other on the sidelines for the first time when the Spanish giant takes on Bayern Munich in New Jersey on Wednesday. Head coach Ancelotti was the mentor and assistant Zidane the pupil in 2014 as Madrid finally delivered La Decima. But the two, whose relationship dates back 17 years to when Ancelotti coached the French great at Juventus, now find themselves on opposing sides as coaches of two European giants and two of the undoubted favorites to lift next season’s Champions League crown.
Since they won the title together two years ago, much has changed for both men. After a brief time honing his coaching craft in charge of the Real Madrid Castilla team, Zidane has enjoyed a dream start to life at the top – lifting the Champions League less than six months after replacing Rafa Benitez last season. Ancelotti, meanwhile, discovered that even winning the ultimate prize at Real Madrid buys you little time. The Italian was out of a job a year after that joyous night in Lisbon before resurfacing at Bayern Munich this summer.
And Ancelotti’s experience should perhaps be a warning to Zidane. No coach is ever far away from losing their job at the Bernabeu under president Florentino Perez, to whom coaches are easily replaceable. Failure to win silverware, even for a season, usually spells the end.
The first trophy up for grabs for Real Madrid comes in just a week’s time. And, although it may not be the most significant prize the club will play for this season, the European Super Cup against Europa League winners Sevilla provides the first test of the campaign. And Zidane goes into it with plenty of concerns.
As many as six players who started the Champions League final could be unavailable in Trondheim. None of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Pepe and Keylor Navas have yet featured in preseason and will be absent again at MetLife Stadium on Wednesday due to Euro 2016 commitments and, in Navas’ case, injury. Karim Benzema is also likely to again be unavailable with a hip problem that has ruled him out for Madrid’s first two games in the United States – a 3-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain and 3-2 win over Chelsea.
Still, the encounter with Bayern Munich could see first appearances of preseason for Luka Modric, James Rodriguez and Sergio Ramos. And there have been positives from those matches, notably the performances of Marcos Asensio. After impressing as a substitute against PSG, the 20-year-old attacking midfielder earned a starting role against Chelsea, when he played his part in Madrid taking a 3-0 first-half lead.
There was a standout moment, too, for another young player. The 23-year-old Dominican Republic international Mariano Díaz scored a stunning long-range strike. While he could get another chance to impress against Bayern Munich, Zidane has strongly suggested that he will spend the next season out on loan.
Bayern Munich has had its own young player making a mark in the U.S. leg of the International Champions Cup. Julian Green, who scored in the World Cup for the U.S. two years ago but has yet to play a single minute in the Bundesliga for Bayern, struck a hat-trick as the German champions swept Inter Milan aside 4-1 in Charlotte on Saturday.
Like Zidane, Ancelotti finds himself without several of his key players in the U.S. thanks to Euro 2016. Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski and others will again not be present against Madrid. And, while he has flown out to join his teammates in New York, Jerome Boateng will not feature either on Wednesday.
Bayern Munich Squad vs. Real Madrid
Bayern Munich Squad
Goalkeepers: Christian Fruchtl, Tom Starke, Sven Ulreich
Defenders: David Alaba, Holger Badstuber, Juan Bernat, Nicolas Feldhahn, Tim Hausler, Philipp Lahm, Rafinha
Midfielders: Xabi Alonso, Fabian Benko, Niklas Dorsch, Javi Martinez, Erdal Ozturk, Franck Ribery, Thiago, Timothy Tillman, Arturo Vidal
Forwards: Mario Crnicki, Julian Green, Karl-Heinz Lappe, Milos Pantovic
Real Madrid Squad
Goalkeepers: Kike Casilla, Ruben Yanex, Alex Craninx, Luca Zidane
Defenders: Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Danilo, Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Nacho, Philipp Lienhart, Alvaro Tejero, Achraf Hakimi
Midfielders: Casemiro, Luka Modric, Isco, Mateo Kovacic, James Rodriguez, Marco Asensio, Martin Odegaard, Enzo Zidane, Diego Llorente, Aleix Febas
Forwards: Karim Benzema, Alvaro Morata, Lucas Vazquez, Mariano, Sergio Diaz
Venue: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Start Time: 7.35 p.m. EDT