Real Madrid and Sevilla will face off in Cardiff, Wales on Tuesday in the 2014 UEFA Super Cup, the first competitive match of the season for both clubs.
The teams earned their tickets for Tuesday's showpiece by virtue of winning the Champions League and Europa League, respectively, and fans are expecting fireworks in this All-Spanish showdown.
Los Blancos will welcome some of their high-prized acquisitions into the squad, but they'll be going up against one of the most difficult teams to beat in all of La Liga. The Super Cup should be quite the show in 2014, and fans can't wait to see how Real's newest Galacticos perform on the big stage.
Date: Tuesday, August 12
Time: 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
The 2014 Super Cup will be one of firsts and lasts, according to various reports. Spanish paper AS confirms James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos will be making their Real Madrid debuts against Sevilla, as shared by SocialRMadrid:
Kroos and James will make their debuts for Real Madrid against Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup. [as] pic.twitter.com/1qhZISVKeK— SocialRMadrid (@SocialRMadrid) August 9, 2014
The two joined Los Blancos in big-money moves over the summer and are expected to play massive roles in the team's Champions League title defence, and Tuesday's fixture will give fans their first glimpse of the two stars in a real match for their new team.
In contrast, Sevilla will be saying goodbye to one of their biggest stars after the Super Cup. According to the Daily Express' Paul Joyce, full-back Alberto Moreno will complete his much-anticipated transfer to Liverpool after giving him one final match with his boyhood club.
This early in the season, it's very difficult to anticipate the kind of form both clubs are in. As shared by SB, striker Carlos Bacca believes Sevilla will have the physical advantage, as he told AS:
Bacca (Sevilla): We may have a physical advantage over Real Madrid but they have an infinite of quality, the best players in the world. [as]— SB (@Realmadridplace) August 10, 2014
Julio Baptista has a history with both teams, and he predicts a hard-fought victory for the Champions League winners, as he told the club's website ( h/t to Marca):
Real have a stronger squad and are favourites, but Sevilla had an outstanding season. I just hope to watch the game and see some good football. To beat Real Madrid you have to play a perfect game, one with no mistakes. It's always been like that. When I played there [for Sevilla] it was like that. We knew we were playing against world-class players and that the only way to beat them was giving it our all, 100%, and not making a single mistake.
Sevilla have never let Real have it easy. I think they're possibly one of the worst opponents for 'Los Blancos' because Sevilla are a tough side to play against, they always put up a fight.
Sevilla will be aided by the absence of star Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso, who lost his appeal against a one-match suspension he suffered during the Champions League final back in May, per Goal's Mark Doyle (for Fox Soccer).
Alonso is one of the team's best defensive players, often putting a stop to attacking moves before they have a chance to develop. Facing the dangerous Bacca, Los Blancos could have used the experienced Spanish international.
The task of shielding the defence will now likely fall to Sami Khedira or Luka Modric, who could see their opportunities to contribute further up the pitch limited as a result. Neither Kroos nor Rodriguez are known as particularly good defenders, perhaps giving Sevilla an edge in the centre of the pitch.
Los Blancos boast a tremendous amount of quality in all areas of the pitch, however, and the team's offensive output should be phenomenal in 2014-15.
Who will win the 2014 Super Cup?
While the new players still need to grow comfortable with their roles, Real's sheer attacking quality should match up well against Sevilla's defence, which ranked in the middle of the La Liga table for goals conceded, per WhoScored.com.
The biggest question mark will likely be how both teams view this match. For Real, this is an opportunity to introduce their new stars to an international audience, with the trophy of far less significance than the upcoming campaigns in La Liga and the Champions League.
Sevilla will see their opportunities to win silverware more limited, and this Super Cup could already make the team's season a success before it has even begun. The underdogs will be the more motivated side, which could give them the edge they need to pull off a major upset.