The season starts a little early this year for Sevilla fans, with the contintental curtain-raiser (that’s what I’m calling it) European Super Cup this week against Champions League winners Real Madrid. Unbelievably, the game is only three days away, so it’s time to pull up our sleeves, practice our "¡puta Madrid! shouts, and prepare for the long season ahead. We’ll give you all a chance to predict the final place of the season in the coming week or two, but for now, let’s take a moment to consider the contest immediately before us.
Sevilla has had a pretty decent offseason, all things considered. The loss of Rakitic is in my mind balanced by the retention of Bacca, who unfortunately for him missed out on getting much playing time during Colombia’s fantastic World Cup run (of all the teams that screwed by decisions endlessly favoring Brazil, I think Colombia was the best team and greatest loss to the tournament). CapRak’s departure is also helped by the arrival of Denis Suárez, who it sounds like has had a pretty decent pre-season, filling the hole left by our Croatian superstar admirably. Elsewhere on the field, the arrivals of Krychowiak, Aspas, and Vidal look promising. And all of this transfer talk ignores probably the most impressive collective performance of the preseason, Sevilla Atletico youngster Juan Muñoz, who couldn’t seem to stop scoring goals. Doubt we’ll see him next week, of course, but there’s certainly cause for excitement there in terms of this season and the ones to come.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, have of course spent their famous millions, bringing in Kroos, James, and Keylor Navas to a club that was already one of the two best and deepest squads in Europe. While those are impressive signings, they’re actually not particularly concerning for the first competitive game of the year: the smart money is on Ancelotti needing a month or two to balance all that talent, playing style, and Florentino’s demands for playing time of his precious galácticos (and not at all necessarily in that order). If he figures it out at all. Whether any of them play at all is a bit questionable, and if they do play, the probability that they’ve sorted out anything like a cohesive role is quite low–you almost wonder if the new guys are more liability than asset for Madrid. So the threats on Tuesday are more likely to be the familiar foes: Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, and if Madrid is smart enough to hold on to him, Di Maria.
Sevilla having lost Rakitic means it’s hard to make the argument that they’ll enter this game the more stable side, and yet with all those new players at the Bernabeu, CR7’s ongoing fitness issues, and a World Cup in which the majority of Madrid’s roster participated, Real Madrid seems likely to be underwhelming early in the season, while Sevilla may well be more cohesive, more fit, and more motivated. I like our boys in rojiblanco to snatch this one.