It’s a brilliant curtain-raiser to the European football season tonight, as the UEFA Super Cup sees Champions League winners Real Madrid, take on Europa League winners Sevilla. It’s the third consecutive all-Spanish Super Cup after Sevilla completed their Europa League hat-trick, and Real Madrid and Barcelona shared the last three Champions League titles.
Unfortunately for Sevilla they have lost the last two Super Cups, and they could well be on the losing side again tonight against Zenedine Zidane’s Galacticos. In 2014 Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to give Real a 2-0 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium. While last year’s final at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi, saw an incredible 5-4 victory for Barcelona after extra-time.
This year the Super Cup will be held at Lerkendal Stadion, Trondheim, and Real Madrid are a decent price to take the honours despite a number of high-profile absences.
Cristiano Ronaldo will not be present as he is still recovering from the knee injury he sustained in the final of Euro 2016. Gareth Bale has not been included in the squad, and nor have Pepe and Toni Kroos. That trio have all been given extended breaks after their exploits in France over the summer. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Keylor Navas is also ruled out through an achilles injury. That’s a big quintet of players for Madrid, but if any sides in Europe can cope with the misses, Real are surely one of them.
On a positive note, Karim Benzema is with the squad although Zidane rates him as 50/50 for the match, while the likes of Modric, Isco, Ramos, Varane, Lucas Vazquez, Rodriguez, and Morata are all expected to start.
For Sevilla it’s been a summer of change, despite a largely successful season in which they made history by winning the Europa league for a third consecutive season, and booked a place in this year’s Champions League. Coach Unai Emery has left to be replaced by Jorge Sampaoli, while four Europa League final starters have left the club for pastures new. Krychowiak, Gameiro, Banega and Coke have all moved on, and Tremoulinas and Krohn-Dehli are injured. It will, however, be an opportunity for summer signings Ben Yedder and Vietto to make competitive debuts for the club.
Zenedine Zidane’s charges have beaten Sevilla on four of the last five occasions they’ve met, with the exception of a 3-2 Sevilla on home ground in November 2015. The last meeting in March 2016 resulted in a 4-0 triumph for Madrid, with Benzema, Ronaldo, Bale and Jese on the scoresheet.
This is an opportunity to get a trophy in the bag early on in the season, and can set Real up for a seasonal onslaught on the Spanish League and the Champions League. Zidane is quoted as saying, “The only thing I’m concerned about is whether we are ready, and we are”. With the quality running through the side, even without those big stars, they are still more than good enough to win here, and a price not far shy of even odds is more than acceptable.
Punters looking for a bigger price might consider the first goalscorer market, where Madrid Marksman Alvaro Morata is priced at +500 with Paddy Power
The Spanish forward showed his strikers instinct at Euro 2016, bagging three goals for his team before the surprise exit at the hands of Italy in the round of 16. He is likely to start in the lone frontman role if Benzema isn’t fit enough to start, although Zidane may opt to play both in tandem if his fellow Frenchman is deemed ready to play.
Real Madrid to beat Sevilla
Tuesday 9th August, 19:45 GMT
Alvaro Morata to Score First
Tuesday 9th August, 19:45 GMT