Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid: Key Battles That Will Shape Spanish Super Cup

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2014

Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid: Key Battles That Will Shape Spanish Super Cup

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    Madrid won against Atletico in the Champions League final.
    Madrid won against Atletico in the Champions League final.Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

    On Tuesday night at 10 p.m. BST, Real Madrid take on Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

    The Santiago Bernabeu will be looking forward to welcoming back the Champions League winners.

    Funnily enough, it was city rivals Atletico Madrid who they mercilessly dispatched 4-1 in the final after extra time.

    Here we look at some of the key battles which will shape the first leg of this game, which pits Diego Simeone's La Liga champions against Carlo Ancelotti's Copa del Rey winners. 

Mario Mandzukic vs. Iker Casillas

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    Mandzukic will put Casillas under pressure.
    Mandzukic will put Casillas under pressure.Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    While Atletico's Croatian striker won't be tussling with Real Madrid's goalkeeper the whole game, there will be key moments when the pair come together which could turn the whole match.

    Iker Casillas had a horrific World Cup and has looked shaky in pre-season, too.

    If Mario Mandzukic can get close to him on set pieces, the Madrid veteran may become nervous.

    It's rare to say something like that about a veteran goalkeeper, but the way he has been performing makes it appropriate.

    Casillas needs to rebuild his confidence. However, if Mandzukic is on his game, he can further drive the nail into the Spaniard's coffin.

    New signing Keylor Navas is likely to be watching on from the bench and keeping a keen eye on proceedings. 

Antoine Griezmann vs. Dani Carvajal

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    Griezmann is a fine signing.
    Griezmann is a fine signing.Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    The first leg of the Spanish Super Cup is at the Santiago Bernabeu, which means we can expect plenty of Real Madrid pressure.

    Therefore, when Atletico do get the chance to break, they have to take advantage of it.

    Antoine Griezmann, the club's summer signing from Real Sociedad, is best placed to do this.

    He's Atletico's fastest forward player and should be the one who leads the counter-attack charge when required.

    Dani Carvajal is his likely opposite number, assuming the full-back gets the nod and Griezmann starts on the left.

    Sergio Ramos will need to be wary of the threat the Frenchman poses as well, as he will be asked to help out his full-back. 

The Central Midfield Battleground

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    Expect a midfield scrap.
    Expect a midfield scrap.Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Atletico won the midfield battle in most of their games last season, wearing down the opposition.

    While Diego Simeone has added some exciting attacking players to the squad, he's likely to stick with the tried and tested against Atletico's city rivals.

    Mario Suarez, Koke and Gabi are a powerful, gritty trio, and they will face a more stylish Madrid selection.

    Toni Kroos has come into Madrid's midfield and looked very comfortable, while Luka Modric has also been consistently impressive for over a year now.

    Both players are happy to get stuck in when required, even though you wouldn't say tackling or defensive work are among their best attributes.

    James Rodriguez is a possible option as the most forward of the trio, although against Fiorentina he started as a false nine.

    Gabi will be charged with shutting down either him or Angel Di Maria—whichever of the two is picked. 

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale v Juanfran and Guilherme Siqueira

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    Beware! Bale and Ronaldo are on the prowl.
    Beware! Bale and Ronaldo are on the prowl.Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Real Madrid's star men are the two wide attackers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

    The pair are similar in their aggressive, direct style and are two of the very best players in the world.

    They will be trouble for Juanfran and Guilherme Siqueira to handle.

    The former was impressive for Atletico last season, but even if he continues his form he will still struggle to contain Ronaldo.

    Portugal's star forward was off-colour during the World Cup but is back among the goals in pre-season.

    Bale, meanwhile, looks ready to build on an excellent start to his career in Spain by coming back from the summer bulked up.

    Siqueira, signed from Benfica, will have plenty to do on Tuesday night.