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Real Madrid brace for Atletico test
TALLINN: Following the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid gets its first test against crosstown rival Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
So far, Madrid hasn’t resorted to a “galacticos” spending spree to bring in marquee names at astronomical prices. Coach Julen Lopetegui seems to be relying on the talent already at his disposal and a new tactical system.
The club, though, has made a few significant purchases, including goalkeeper Thibault Courtois from Chelsea.
Now, the team that was built around Ronaldo and which has won three straight Champions League titles comes up against a strong Atletico team that won the Europa League and finished ahead of Madrid in the Spanish league.
Here are a few things to watch out for in Wednesday’s match in Tallinn, Estonia: Ronaldo moved to Juventus in a 112 million euro ($131 million) deal and Zidane resigned.
Those changes have given new impetus to forwards Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio to step up and fill the void left by Ronaldo, who scored 450 goals in 438 matches for Madrid.
Bale, who came on as a substitute and scored two goals in Madrid’s 3-1 win over Liverpool in the Champions League final in May, has more to prove than anyone in the team. He had a rocky relationship with Zidane and spent much of his time on the bench under the Frenchman last season.
But Bale has impressed in the pre-season and he will look to prove to Lopetegui that he’s not just a Ronaldo understudy.
Benezema, whose main function was to create opportunities for Ronaldo, will also look to shine now that the Portugal international is gone and he is left with finding a new partner. (AP)