After a lacklustre preseason performance in the International Champions Cup, the European Super Cup offers the first chance to examine Real Madrid in a competitive capacity.
Sevilla, the team that stand in their way, are opponents they are very familiar with, and a side that on their day have the ability to beat Los Blancos.
Whilst the national team returned to the norm of underachieving in major tournaments, Spanish clubs performed rather well on the intercontinental stage last season.
Seldom do clubs from the same nation win the two major European trophies on offer, but Madrid and Sevilla achieved such a feat. That being said the last time this did occur (2006), Sevilla emerged the victors against Barcelona and have the chance to do so tonight.
An all Spanish final is indicative of La Liga’s strength, a division with has been further strengthened by the addition of Luis Suarez, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos.
One facet of two teams from the same league facing off against each other is that they should be relatively familiar with each other.
Real Madrid and Sevilla played twice last season in La Liga and took points off each other but the stand out result was the 7-3 drubbing they received at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Ronaldo scoring three and Bale and Benzema bagging two apiece. Sevilla boss Unai Emry however takes solace in that his side beat Real in their last meeting:
"At our best we have already beaten them [2-1 in Seville in March] so there is a precedent... We know Madrid, aside from the new players, but this is about us too – we have to be united and intelligent and exploit our attacking qualities while preparing the game around a strong defence," the Sevilla coach explained.
Los Blancos fans will get the first real glimpse of their new Galactico’s after Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that both will start against Sevilla:
"Kroos has trained for five days and has done well; I think tomorrow he will make his debut and Rodríguez too. Iker [Casillas] will play too – he is doing well and deserves to start for what he did in the Champions League last season," the Italian confirmed.
Gareth Bale is also set to play after playing in each of Madrid’s preseason matches, Xabi Alonso will sit out the match, after receiving a one game suspension for running onto the pitch during the Champions League final.
Their opponents on the other hand have been weakened by the departure of influential midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who has made the switch to Barcelona. But Denis Suarez, who has enjoyed a promising preseason, will be looking to fill the Croat’s boots during his loan spell from the Catalan giants.
Key players Bacca, Coke and Moreno look set to start, with the latter possibly playing his last match for Sevilla.
Such players could be the difference against a Madrid side who are yet to put in a convincing performance, meaning Sevilla could spring a surprise result. However the individual talents of the Galacticos cannot be discounted.