In the annual meeting between Champions League and Europa League winners, Real Madrid will be without several top stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo, when they face Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup Tuesday night in Trondheim, Norway.
Los Blancos, who triumphed over Atletico Madrid on penalties back in May for their 11th UCL crown, and new manager Zinedine Zidane will miss Ronaldo, striker Karim Benzema, winger Gareth Bale, midfielder Toni Kroos, and defender Pepe for a variety of reasons.
Ronaldo suffered a leg injury during his Portugal side’s Euro 2016 final victory, while Bale has been given a longer break after he helped carry Wales deep into the same tournament. Portugal’s Pepe and Germany’s Kroos will be held out for fitness reasons.
Meanwhile, a back injury has sidelined the Benzema but he is with the squad and Zidane didn’t completely rule out the French forward's participation.
“We have a cup final with two teams who are both capable of winning, the only thing I'm concerned about is whether we are ready and we are,” Zidane said. “We'll see what happens with Karim Benzema tomorrow but the important thing is he's with us.”
All the knocks and rest have allowed Zidane to add his son, Luca, to the squad. The 18-year-old goalkeeper could make his first-team debut with Madrid while Keylor Navas continues to recover from a foot injury.
Sevilla, making their third straight trip to Super Cup after trouncing Liverpool 3-1, will welcome new manager Jorge Sampaoli. The Argentine takes over for Unai Emery, who moved on to Paris Saint-Germain, but Sampaoli enjoys that his first challenge will be against a titan like Real Madrid.
“To make your debut in European football in a final against Real Madrid is a great responsibility," Sampaoli said. “Playing a superpower like Real Madrid on this stage is a great challenge. My footballing philosophy is that my team should utterly dominate games. My ambition is for Sevilla not to win by any means, but to lay down a style and a way of playing that means we don't feel inferior to anyone."
Prediction: Expect a big game from James Rodriguez, who will be seeking more playing time in 2016-17. Real Madrid have the deeper lineup, and should be able to edge Sevilla in a tight contest.
Predicted Score: Real Madrid 2-1 Sevilla
Real Madrid Probable Lineup
D: Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo
MF: Casemiro, Modrić, Isco
F: Rodríguez, Vázquez, Morata
Sevilla Probable Lineup
D: Ferreira, Pareja, Carrico, Escudero
MF: Kranevitter, Correa, Iborra
F: Sarabia, Konoplyanka, Vietto
Kickoff: 2:45 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Live Online: Fox Soccer 2 Go