The first official match of the club football season is upon us. The winner of the UEFA Champions League and the winner of the UEFA Europa League start us off. Real Madrid and Sevilla meet again after having done so in 2014, with a 2-0 win for Los Blancos.
Still with summer break jet lag, the usual intensity that we see in this La Liga “clásico” probably won’t be there. However, it’s still a trophy to be won.
Preferred Formation: 4-4-2
Zinedine Zidane used this system throughout the three preseason matches. The absence of the BBC forced him to rearrange his pieces and use this instead of the 4-3-3.
While there may be some surprises, it’s a safe bet to assume the most prepared men will make an appearance. The lack of goal from the attackers is troubling, yet the fact that it’s an official title may add some extra motivation.
GK: Kiko Casilla
He was able to keep a clean sheet against Bayern Munich after a couple of great saves. Keylor Navas won’t be ready, so surprises aren’t expected for this position. This will be his first time playing a final for Real.
RB: Dani Carvajal
Oddly enough, we saw better defending than attacking from him in the preseason. His nature is more offensive than defensive. This match will require a bit more balance, as Sevilla men must be watched, but the attackers must be supported.
CB: Raphaël Varane
With Pepe still out, the Frenchman can show that his time to shine is now. Nacho looks like he’ll remain in the Santiago Bernabéu, so the Portuguese will continue to be his strongest competition.
CB: Sergio Ramos
The captain already showed up in the last friendly, setting him up for a start versus his former club. He’s used to shining in finals, so everyone will hope to see him do that again in the Lerkendal Stadion.
The star of the preseason may be the ideal player to lead his teammates to a win. His contribution in the attack has been large and it will need to happen again on Tuesday.
RM: James Rodríguez
The Colombian also reappeared in New Jersey. It’s still unclear if the manager wants to bring back the best version of the #10. If he does, giving him the chance to make the difference in a final is a good start.
RCM: Luka Modrić
It’s no secret that he’s one of the main creative forces of the team. This season he must be used carefully, as his freshness both physically and mentally can be a huge boost. Mateo Kovačić could be the surprise here.
Compared to his showings in the second half of last season, his current form may be just a product of the summer break. Sevilla has made strong signings and the best Casemiro must be seen in order to stop them.
James, Asensio and him are all fighting to play while the BBC is absent. For the moment, they have a couple more spots they can fit in. However, when the BBC returns, the battle for a spot will get much tougher.
ST: Lucas Vázquez
While we saw his intensity in the preseason, he didn’t have much luck. This spot may be the one with most competitors for this game. Bale, Mariano, and Asensio may all come in for Lucas.
ST: Álvaro Morata
He hasn’t scored a goal since his return to the club. His coach has shown confidence in him and trusts that the goals will start to come in soon. This would be an ideal occasion for him to end this negative streak.