Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid UEFA Super Cup talking points

Andy West 14/08/2018
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Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid face off in the UEFA Super Cup.

Silverware is at stake in an early season Madrid derby as Real and Atletico go head to head in Wednesday night’s UEFA Super Cup.

The game in Tallinn, Estonia, could see Champions League holders Real give a debut to new signing Thibaut Courtois, while Europa League winners Atletico have bolstered their squad with a plethora of new recruits.

And, of course, it also marks the first time in nine years that Real have started the campaign without the services of a certain someone…

From BBC to BBA?

The game heralds the onset of a new era for Real, with the legendary duo of Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo fading into the past as new coach Julen Lopetegui takes charge of his first competitive game.

It has been a surprisingly quiet summer in the transfer market for Los Blancos, with club president Florentino Perez so far declining the opportunity to splash out on a big-name replacement for Ronaldo despite strong speculation linking his club with World Cup stars Kylian Mbappe, Eden Hazard and supposed long-time target Neymar.

That is good news for two players in particular: firstly Gareth Bale, who brought last season to a stunning climax by scoring twice in the Champions League final victory against Liverpool but then shocking the club by revealing his future was in doubt.

And secondly Marco Asensio, who has previously rarely managed to force his way into the starting eleven but now appears to have his first real chance to establish himself as an automatic selection.

Karim Benzema will also look to benefit from Ronaldo’s departure by becoming more of a focal point in the penalty area after only scoring 12 goals in all competitions last season, and if the new-look forward trio of Bale, Benzema and Asensio can fire Madrid to their first trophy of the season, it could be enough to satisfy Perez that no new additions are required.

If not, Mauro Icardi – the Inter Milan striker who would probably be Real’s most realistic short-term target – may be expecting a phone call.

Benzema is under immense pressure after a poor season.

Benzema is under immense pressure after a poor season.

Atletico ready for lift-off?

There is a serious sense of optimism surrounding Atletico as the new season dawns, with an excellent summer in the transfer market suggesting that Diego Simeone’s men are ready to mount a major challenge for top honours.

Two of the new signings are expected to start on Wednesday night, with skilful French international winger Thomas Lemar joined by classy former Villarreal midfielder Rodri, who will serve as an instant replacement for now departed ex-skipper Gabi.

With those two joined in the midfield by stalwarts Koke and Saul, supporting a front pairing of Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann, Atletico now boast a front six to be feared in addition to their always reliable defensive set-up.

However, anyone expecting Simeone to use his new recruits to unleash a more attacking strategy will be disappointed. The Argentine coach has repeatedly made it clear that he will never relinquish his principles of hard work and discipline, and Atletico’s challenge this season will continue to be built on firm defensive foundations – no matter how many dazzling attacking talents they possess.

Simeone will be approaching the season with familiar relish.

Simeone will be approaching the season with familiar relish.

Will Real press and can Atletico counter?

After the tactical indecision – or, to be more generous, flexibility – of the Zidane era, Wednesday’s game gives new Madrid boss Lopetegui his first serious chance to implement his new strategy for the team.

During his time as Spain national team coach, Lopetegui was always an advocate of a 4-3-3 formation featuring energetic pressing, attempting to keep the opposition under constant pressure and gain possession as high up the pitch as possible.

He is now expected to implement a similar style of play at club level, but such a strategy could play straight into Atletico’s hands: Simeone’s teams have never been particularly concerned about gradually building up play from the back, and the counter-attacking abilities of Griezmann, Costa and new boy Lemar could severely punish a high defensive line if their teammates can succeed in evading the initial press and quickly turn defence into attack.

And if Lopetegui’s system suffers an early setback against crosstown rivals, the new boss would be well and truly under pressure when the new league season gets underway at the weekend.

Lopetegui will instantly be under pressure if Madrid lose.

Lopetegui will instantly be under pressure if Real lose.

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Live Real Madrid blog: Sergio Ramos hits back at Jurgen Klopp's comments

David Cooper 14/08/2018
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Hello one and all, David Cooper with you throughout the day for every nugget of Real Madrid news.

Los Blancos are preparing to face rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup final on Wednesday before opening up their La Liga campaign against Getafe in a week’s time.

As ever, get in touch with us throughout the day on Twitter and Facebook.

10:45pm – Sergio Ramos hits back at Jurgen Klopp

Three months after the Champions League final, the war of words continues between the Spanish defender and German Liverpool manager. Read what Ramos had to say here.

10:00pm – Vinicius Junior is ‘present and future’ of Real Madrid

That is the view of Marcelo who continues to be left in awe of the Brazilian teenager. Read more on what the defender said on his compatriot here.

Vinicius Junior

8:30pm – Real Madrid begin life without Cristiano Ronaldo

Los Blancos face Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday in their first competitive match since Cristiano Ronaldo left. Andy West looks at the key points for the European champions ahead of their game in Estonia. Read more here.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid face off in the UEFA Super Cup.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid face off in the UEFA Super Cup.

7:00pm – Julen Lopetegui praises Gareth Bale

The Real Madrid boss has spoken glowingly of the Welshman ahead of the UEFA Super Cup against Atletico Madrid, saying he has been impressed with his attitude and work ethic this summer. Read more on that story here.

Bale is set to become Real Madrid's main star this season.

2:15pm – Madrid’s Super Cup scorers

FBL-EUR-SUPERCUP-REAL-MADRID-MAN UTD

Anticipation is building for Real Madrid’s meeting with neighbours Atleti in the Super Cup.

Several current Los Blancos players have scored in the fixture and their Twitter account has run through whose made the list.

12:35pm – Madrid set to Pjanic after Juve rejection

0725 Miralem Pjanic

Real Madrid’s search for a new centre midfielder is set to continue after Juventus reportedly turned down a €60 million (Dh251.6m) bid for Miralem Pjanic.

Read the story here.

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'Great Gareth Bale is a player we love', says Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui

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Bale is set to become Real Madrid's main star this season.

Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui praised Gareth Bale ahead of the side’s UEFA Super Cup clash against city rivals Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

The Welshman is expected to take centre stage at Madrid this season following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, and his manager was keen to talk up the 29-year-old.

“Bale is a player we love, he has been here a long time and has been training hard,” Lopetegui said at his pre-match press conference.

“He is motivated and is an important player who forms part of the team, and being a team is what is important.

“We need great players like him, and I’m more than happy with his work and attitude.

“We have player who is a super professional player in all aspects, who is training with the motivation of a youth player and who is helping us enormously.

“Yet I wouldn’t want to rely on one or two players.

“It is the team which is the main thing, and we will help Bale have a great season.”

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