World Cup top scorer James Rodriguez will make his competitive debut for European champions Real Madrid in Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla in Cardiff with fellow new signing Toni Kroos also in line to play.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti said Real were looking sharp in training despite some late arrivals from the showpiece tournament in Brazil where Rodriguez shone for Colombia before securing a move from Monaco for an estimated fee of 80 million euro ($107-million).
“The quality of the squad has been improved by James Rodriguez,” Ancelotti told reporters on the eve of the Super Cup.
“Toni Kroos is in good shape. I think he and James Rodriguez will both play tomorrow. Toni Kroos will help us a lot, strategically and especially with his positioning on the pitch.”
As well as the German World Cup winner, Ancelotti said Iker Casillas would start because the match is the Champions League winners against the Europa League victors and the keeper played in last term’s European campaign as Real sealed a record 10th title triumph.
The Spain goalkeeper, whose shaky form last term culminated in a nightmare World Cup, was kept out by Diego Lopez in La Liga last season and the situation has been further complicated by the signing of Costa Rica stopper Keylor Navas.
“I don’t know or I do know but I’m not going to say,” smirked wily Italian Ancelotti when he was asked who his first choice keeper would be this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo is fit to play after finally overcoming a series of niggles and another player starting on Tuesday is Gareth Bale as he returns to his Cardiff birthplace.
“I don’t feel the pressure of being back home. It’s just another game we must win,” said winger Bale.
Amid the hysteria over Real’s reams of attacking talent, which pundits have dubbed a second wave of ‘Galacticos’, Sevilla coach Unai Emery reminded everyone that it takes two sides to play a game.
“We know the potential of Real Madrid but the part that depends on us is ours,” he said.
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