Not three months since their Champions League showdown at the Estadio da Luz, Atlético Madrid must again take on their bitter rivals Real Madrid, again for a piece of silverware, as the 2014/15 season opens with the Spanish Super Cup first leg on Tuesday.
Runners up last year to Barcelona, Atleti will be hoping to avoid a similar result over the two legs and claim a trophy they have only ever once won – back in 1984.
The omens look good for Atlético – the trophy has been won in each of the last six years by the reigning Liga champions – but Real Madrid go into the game after an impressive win against Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup.
There will be two very different sides that line up to those we saw at Lisbon back in May – some changed more than others.
Diego Costa and David Villa have both departed Spain, to London and New York respectively, and with Arda Turan suspended, it’s a completely different attacking trio for Atleti.
Mario Manzdukic, Antoine Griezmann and Raul Jimenez are all in line to make their competitive debuts for Atlético – and the focus will be on the counter attack as Real are likely to pile on the pressure at the Santiago Bernabeu.
There will be a new face in goal too, with Jan Oblak brought in from Benfica to compete with Miguel Angel Moya from Getafe.
Real will have some debutants too, both are on the back of fantastic World Cup campaigns. James Rodriguez signed from Monaco for a reported €80 million, while Kroos was a bargain from Bayern at just €25 million. Both are due to make their home bow, but new signing Keylor Navas is expected to sit on the bench and watch Casillas in goal for Real.
Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to start after his UEFA Super Cup winning performance, while Gareth Bale and Pepe are doubts after sitting out training over the last couple of days. It’s likely that Varane and Isco will replace to two injured men.
It will be a very tight game, and Mario Suarez agrees.
“On Tuesday we are playing for an important title against our eternal rivals and we will face it as we always do. We want to win and everybody knows that,” said Suarez.
“It will be very difficult. The two teams know each other very well and it will be a great, hard-fought game as all derbies are.
“We know that the team that commits the fewest errors and is more concentrated across the 180 minutes will be the one with most chance of winning the trophy.”
Kick-off is at 23:00 CET.