Gareth Bale v Antoine Griezmann features in our Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid key battles

Matt Jones 14/08/2018
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What a way to raise the curtain on the European and La Liga season: Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.

A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn is the venue for the 43rd edition of the match, with Real going for their fifth win in seven appearances, having won on each of their last four visits (2002, 2014, 2016 and 2017).

City rivals Atleti have only been in two previous Super Cup games but have won both times – in 2010 and 2012.

Ahead of the game, here are the three key battles that could decide the contest.

KEYLOR NAVAS V JAN OBLAK

1508 key battle navas v oblak

An intriguing season ahead for Costa Rica custodian Navas, who is expected to keep his place in goal for the Super Cup despite the fact he is likely to be shunted to No2 stopper this season following Thibaut Courtois’ arrival from Chelsea.

His face has never quite has fit at a club that is a marketing machine, even if his ability has, although his meagre 25.9 per cent clean sheet record from last season was only good enough for 13th place among La Liga goalkeepers.

Opposite number Oblak, meanwhile, topped the charts with 59.5 per cent of his games resulting in a clean sheet – 22 shutouts in 37 games to be precise.

Atleti managed to keep the vultures away from one of their prized assets this summer and their chances of success this campaign start at the back with the Slovenian.

MARCO ASENSIO V THOMAS LEMAR

 1508 key battle asensio v lemar (1)

A spectacular left-footed goal in the Spanish Super Cup two years ago launched Marco Asensio into the spotlight. Now, with Cristiano Ronaldo gone, the 22-year-old has the stage to truly shine.

Asensio is the Spanish wonderkid who can lead La Roja into a new era. A supreme talent who is destined for big things, a stellar showing here will lay down a big marker for the new season.

The eyes of Atleti’s fans will be on their own 22-year-old, new signing Lemar.

After bagging 14 goals in 55 games as Monaco broke the PSG monopoly on Ligue 1 two years ago, Lemar’s return of only three in 38 last term will have left Los Rojiblancos supporters a little perplexed, especially at the £52.7m parted with for his services. He has to hit the ground running.

GARETH BALE V ANTOINE GRIEZMANN

 1508 key battle bale v griezmann (1)

Like Asensio, Bale is another man expected to shine now that he can dwell in the limelight rather than beneath Ronaldo’s considerable shadow. He might have also been on the move this summer but the Welsh wizard has decided to stay, probably as he’ll expect to get more chances to be the leading man under new coach Julen Lopetegui.

He’ll also hope to add to his 21 goals in all competitions last season. That was actually his second best haul in five seasons in Spain.

Another man who surprised many by staying put is Griezmann. His awful LeBron James-style ‘The Decision’ announcement of his desire to remain in red and white aside, the Frenchman comes into the season buoyed by becoming a World Cup winner in the summer and an enhanced role at Wanda Metropolitano which has seen him elevated to one of the club’s captains this term.

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde wants Ousmane Dembele to stay at Camp Nou

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde was full of praise for Ousmane Dembele after his wonder-goal saw his side lift the Supercopa de Espana against Sevilla.

The Spanish champions had to come from behind after Pablo Sarabia scored after just nine minutes, but managed to level the game before half-time when Gerard Pique fired a rebound off a Lionel Messi free-kick.

But it was Dembele’s stunner into the top corner in the 78th minute which gave Barcelona the hard-fought 2-1 victory and left Valverde happy with his team’s performance.

“We need a bit of shooting practice, but we are happy because in spite of everything, we have beaten a great rival,” Valverde told the club’s official website.

“We fell behind and that cost us, but we got better as the game went on.

“He (Dembele) is a player with great qualities and today has left us with something to be happy about in a difficult match.”

The drama continued throughout the match, with Sevilla having plenty of chances to find a second goal, but a missed penalty from substitute Wissam Ben Yedder in the 90th minute secured the win for Barca.

“The most complicated thing when you play against a super team is that you have to compete, that means making it difficult for the opponent with all your weapons. We’ve done it, Sevilla boss Pablo Machin told a press conference.

“We were ahead many minutes and when we were behind, we were able to come back and the penalty came and if we scored the penalty, we multiplied the options.

“We could have won the game, but we did not score that penalty and Barca became the champions.”

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Thibaut Courtois starts from the bench in Real Madrid's friendly against AC Milan

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Real Madrid new signing Thibaut Courtois is set to make his debut against AC Milan at the Bernabeu tonight (23:00).

The Belgian will start from the bench but is expected to feature in the second half in place of Keylor Navas.

Casemiro, Raphael Varane, Marcelo and Toni Kroos all start, with Inter Milan target Luka Modric on the bench.

Meanwhile, Gonzalo Higuain makes his bow in a Milan jersey after joining from Juventus on loan earlier this month.

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

Milan: Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Higuain, Borini

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