The first clash of the new season stands a day away from Real Madrid, as they get ready to take on Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup. With the game comes the opportunity to secure the first silverware of the season, a chance the team will look to capitalise on.
To see the glory, however, Carlo Ancelotti’s men will face a stern test. The German club were not dubbed amongst the favourites to win the Europa League but pulled off upset after upset to win it all.
Their most notable result was an emphatic 4-3 win over Barcelona in the Quarterfinals. Oliver Glasner’s held the Catalans to a 1-1 draw at home before decimating them at Camp Nou.
Ancelotti will have a full-strength squad at his disposal at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium. While the team should be confident of getting the better of the Bundesliga side, overconfidence can be fatal on the night.
1. Carlo Ancelotti’s strange decision
Last week, it was reported that the Real Madrid manager was against using the new signings for the UEFA Super Cup. Ancelotti wanted the same team that won the UCL to clinch the cup in Helsinki in what was a strange but understandable decision.
While it is not confirmed whether the decision is final, one could well expect Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Tchouameni to start on the bench against Eintracht Frankfurt.
David Alaba and Eder Militao will thus start in central defence with Ferland Mendy deployed at left-back. In midfield, Casemiro will start as the pivot with the experienced Luka Modric and Toni Kroos placed ahead of him.
2. A new chapter for Karim Benzema
Benzema has become a bonafide legend during his decade-long spell at the club. His importance in the team has grown leaps and bounds over the past two seasons after he took over as the primary goalscorer.
Yet, there are always new avenues to explore, and Benzema stands in front of one. Following Marcelo’s departure, the Frenchman was named the first captain of the team. The game on Wednesday night will be the first game under his full captaincy and possibly the first trophy too.
While he has held the armband before on multiple occasions, he was Marcelo or Sergio Ramos’ deputy.
On an individual level, the veteran will look to keep up with his astronomical standards. Benzema has always been one to step up on the big occasions and produce goals on demand. Needless to say, all eyes will be on him when Real Madrid take on Glasner’s side.
3. The absence of Filip Kostic
Last season, Filip Kostic was Eintracht Frankfurt’s best player by a country mile. The 29-year-old played as a left-midfielder for the German club and was the primary creative outlet for his team.
In 31 Bundesliga appearances, he scored four goals and provided nine assists for his side last season. In the decisive quarterfinal game against Barcelona, he delivered two goals and an assist at Camp Nou to knock out Xavi’s side.
However, the midfield star will not play against Real Madrid this week. Juventus are prepared to complete the 29-year-old’s signing,, and the deal is already in its final stages.
Because of his imminent transfer, Glasner left out Kostic from his squad for the Super Cup. Needless to say, this comes as big news for Los Blancos as they will now face an opposition devoid of its best player.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Sevilla | La Liga GW 26
As one of the few teams that managed to take a point off Real Madrid in the first half of the season, Rayo Vallecano was seen as a dangerous opponent as Los Blancos prepared for matchday 25 of La Liga.
True to the expectation, the visitors gave Real Madrid a run for their money and managed to salvage a draw once more.
Matchday 26, thus, presents yet another steep challenge for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. The men in white lock horns with Sevilla, one of the few other teams that managed to hold them to a draw in their previous encounter.
It has not been an easy season for Los Nervionenses as they linger in 15th place after 25 games. However, they have shown time and time again that they have resilience and they will trouble the Merengues without a doubt.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Sevilla.
An emotional, yet emotion-less affair
The one headline flooding the news ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Sevilla this weekend is about Sergio Ramos. The former Real Madrid captain faced Los Blancos earlier this season at Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and showed that he still had it in him to play at the top level, but tomorrow’s clash will be special for reasons beyond the sporting sense.
The Spanish superstar captained one of the Merengues’ greatest units in history and saw them make their way to back-to-back titles for years. His departure from the club, however, was almost anti-climactic as he left as a free agent in 2021.
Tomorrow night will be the first time the club legend steps foot on the grasses of the Santiago Bernabeu since his departure. A return to the stadium he once called home can only be described as an emotional affair.
Moreover, the club administration have even arranged for a small emotional tribute to the player who took them to great heights in the last decade, amplifying the sense of nostalgia.
Concurrently, however, both Ramos and Real Madrid are fiercely competitive and do not see nostalgia as any reason for sympathy. Once the referee blows the whistle, there will be no love lost between the two parties.
Real Madrid will be forced to go up against the monster they created, while Ramos will be equally motivated to show the management what they lost by passing on him. In either case, the game will be driven by passion and will not be affected one bit by the background story.
Two suspensions, one return
In addition to his long list of injuries, Carlo Ancelotti has a new factor to consider before deploying his starting XI on Sunday night. After all, two players are out through suspension – Dani Carvajal and Eduardo Camavinga.
The Spanish veteran was sent off in Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano and will be unavailable to start on the night at right-back. Ancelotti will turn towards Lucas Vazquez to cover the void on the night, but it is clear that Carvajal will be missed.
The second player unavailable on the night, Eduardo Camavinga, is once again replaceable, now that Antonio Rudiger is back fit and ready to feature.
The German maestro has missed three weeks of action through injury but has made a comeback. His availability on the night would enable Aurelien Tchouameni to play as the pivot, effectively covering for Camavinga’s absence.
Going up against Sevilla, one of the few teams to have stolen points from Real Madrid this season, Carlo Ancelotti will be without the services of two key attackers.
Jude Bellingham will continue to be unavailable on the night as he recovers from his recent blow. The Englishman has made good progress so far, but it is still sizeably away from a return.
Joselu, meanwhile, was confirmed to be suffering from bone edema and is expected to be out for at least three weeks. The combination of the two absences leaves Ancelotti with only three viable attacking options – Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo Goes, and Brahim Diaz.
The Spanish-Moroccan star is expected to slot into Bellingham’s position, for it is his niche on the field while the two Brazilians will start up front as the two forwards. As revealed yesterday, the situation also opens the door for Arda Guler.
Ancelotti sees Guler as a player capable of making a difference as a forward and will thus count on him more often in the coming days. With all forward options likely to start, the Turkish phenom could begin to enjoy more prominence as a substitute tomorrow against Sevilla.
There have been talks around a possible loan involving Guler in recent weeks, and the coming games could just be his best bet to prove his worth and establish his presence under the manager.