Football

Published: Wednesday August 13, 2014 MYT 6:02:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday August 13, 2014 MYT 6:02:51 PM

Real reinforcements shine in Super Cup victory

CARDIFF (Reuters) - Real Madrid ended a 12-year wait for a 10th European Cup win in May but it would be no surprise if their next title arrives just 12 months later based on their performance in the 2-0 victory over Sevilla in the European Super Cup on Tuesday.

Carlo Ancelotti's expensively assembled team dominated the lively annual European club season curtain-raiser against the Europa League winners in Cardiff and could easily have won by more than the two excellent goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo.

With the Spanish League season starting on the weekend of Aug. 23-24, Ancelotti's players have more than a week to hone their fitness and skill levels, to pose even more of a threat to both their domestic and European rivals.

Real go into the new season with an even stronger squad than the one that finished the last campaign when they won the Champions League and King's Cup but finished third behind Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga.

The squad has been bolstered by the arrivals of Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich, James Rodriguez from AS Monaco and goalkeeper Kayler Navas from Levante, an exciting trio of players who all shone at the World Cup.

In total, Ancelotti has around $840 million worth of talent at his disposal and perhaps one of his main tasks this coming season, as well as winning as many matches as possible, is to keep such an array of star players happy.

Ancelotti, however, seems totally at ease with the kind of problem that would cause plenty of headaches for most managers.

"It will be impossible for anyone to play in the 65 matches ahead of us," the Italian said.

"It doesn't work like that. Xabi Alonso, for example, suspended from tonight's match, is a very important player for us and he will play his matches, even though we have Toni Kroos in midfield and all the others.

"We are capable of playing at a very high level this season, every player has a role to play."

Among those with a key role is Gareth Bale, who along with Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Rodriguez formed part of a front four against Sevilla that cost around $453 million - the most expensive attacking quartet ever assembled.

RETURNING SON

Bale had a night to remember by playing his first club match in his home city since October 2006 when he was in a Southampton side that lost 1-0 to Cardiff City at the now-demolished Ninian Park in a Championship match.

Since then, as well as becoming the world's most expensive player, Bale has also won the Champions League with Real, scoring the vital second goal in their 4-1 extra-time victory over Atletico in Lisbon in May.

"It was a really special night being back in my home town," Bale told reporters. "It was great to be part of the team that won the Super Cup, it was quite surreal being back in Cardiff with Real, but the Welsh fans were brilliant, we played well and we deserved to win."

Bale also provided a truly stupendous cross-field pass for Ronaldo's opening goal after 30 minutes, and came close to scoring himself with almost the last kick of the game when Sevilla keeper Beto did well to save his powerful angled shot.

Ronaldo found the net for a second time four minutes into the second half with a left-footed strike that his Portugese international team mate got a hand to, but could not stop.

Bale said before the match he was pleased to no longer be "the new kid on the block" at Real following the arrival of Kroos, Rodriguez and Navas.

The goalkeeper sat out the game but Ancelotti was delighted with the way Kroos and Rodriguez played on their official debuts for the side.

"It is still early days but Kroos played very well tonight, it was tougher for James but he played his part too."

Sevilla also played their part in an entertaining match but apart from the occasional foray forward, never seriously threatened to win the game.

Afterwards, coach Unai Emery confirmed young Spain defender Alberto Moreno was leaving for Liverpool but said he was pleased with the way his new arrivals played.

Grzegorz Krychowiak, who joined from Rennes, and Denis Suarez, on loan from Barcelona, showed enough grit and invention to suggest that Sevilla, fifth in La Liga last season, will be challenging for somewhat more modest prizes than their opponents in Cardiff.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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