Despite having arguably Atletico’s best ever season, Diego Simeone’s men have still suffered from the departure of a number of key players over the close season as Filipe Luis and Diego Costa joined Chelsea and Thibaut Courtois returned to Stamford Bridge after a three-year loan spell.
The money received from the sales of Costa and Filipe Luis has however been reinvested in an exciting new frontline as Mario Mandzukic joined from Bayern Munich, Mexican international Raul Jimenez was signed from Club America, and Antoine Griezmann moved from Real Sociedad for €30 million (USD $40 million). All three are in line to make their competitive debuts at the Santiago Bernabeu, but playmaker Arda Turan misses out due to a hamstring injury.
The Super Cup is one of the few titles Atletico have missed out on during Simeone’s three years in charge as they were just edged out on away goals by Barcelona last season.
And midfielder Mario Suarez is determined to make amends for their heartbreaking 4-1 defeat to Real after extra time in Lisbon three months ago having been just over a minute away from wining the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.
“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.”
Real haven’t rested on their laurels after claiming a tenth European crown as they have splashed over €100 million on FIFA World Cup™ stars James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Colombian Rodriguez and Germany playmaker Kroos made an immediate impact in their debuts as Real won the first of a potential six trophies this season by defeating Sevilla 2-0 to win the UEFA Super Cup last week.
However, Navas has had to wait for his opportunity as Iker Casillas started against Sevilla in Cardiff despite his poor form in Spain’s disastrous campaign at the World Cup. Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, though, hasn’t yet declared who his first choice ‘keeper for the campaign will be and Navas is willing to push Casillas for his place in the side.
“I have come here to work with humility and to try hard every day, which is what I have done my whole life. I am at the disposition of the coaching staff and I will never give up,” Costa Rican Navas told the club’s website.
“Now we need to think about the next game. We want to win and we have that winning mentality. The team is very motivated and we know it is an important title that we will all fight to win.”
The second leg will be played at Atletico’s Vicente Calderon stadium on Friday evening before both clubs begin their league campaigns next Monday.