Real Madrid will miss star attackers Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in their opening Audi Cup tournament matchup against Tottenham on Tuesday at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany.
As Los Blancos rev up for the start of La Liga on Aug. 23, the club and new manager Rafa Benitez are allowing their top goal scorers time to heal from minor injuries. During a recent training session, Ronaldo experienced lower back pain, according to a statement released by the team, and Benzema “overloaded” his right thigh. Neither made the trip to Germany.
Benitez named the 24-man squad for the tournament, and neither the 30-year-old Ronaldo nor the 27-year-old Benzema are on the released list, which means they could miss the second match against either hosts Bayern Munich or Serie A’s AC Milan.
Instead, supporters may see Jese, Lucas Vasquez, and Borja Mayoral at the forward position, and a mix of the loaded midfield that includes Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez, and Gareth Bale.
Madrid are coming off a successful run in the China leg of the International Champions cup, defeating Manchester City and Inter Milan by three goals, and picking up a 10-9 penalty shootout victory over AC Milan before heading back to Spain for a quick rest.
Though Mauricio Pochettino’s side assuredly hoped to face Ronaldo and Benzema to truly test itself before the start of Premier League next weekend, Spurs’ chances of securing a victory and some confidence have greatly improved.
Tottenham began its preseason last week with a 2-1 loss to the MLS All-Stars, and Pochettino will have to fine tune his lineup in preparation for the Premier League opener against Manchester United on Sunday.
While staring down the Spanish giants, Tottenham will again test out new defenders Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier. Tottenham had their struggles in 2014-2015, and the duo is expected to play a significant role in the upcoming season.
Meanwhile, Tottenham’s top scorer and burgeoning star striker Harry Kane looks to build off his breakout season. The 22-year-old Englishman netted Spurs only goal against MLS’s top players and is poised to be one of the more feared attackers in the Premier League after netting 30 goals and five assists across all competitions last term.
But Pochettino is still seeking another scorer to pair with Kane, and there’s a chance Tottenham adds Inter midfielder Freddy Guarin. TalkSport reports the 29-year-old Colombian and his agent haven't heard from the previously interested Juventus, which leaves the door open for Spurs to land the talented playmaker.
Prediction: Real Madrid over Tottenham, 3-1