London, Aug 11: World Cup sensation James Rodriguez is in line to make his Real Madrid debut when the European champions tackle Europa League winners Sevilla in tomorrow’s all-Spanish UEFA Super Cup in Cardiff.
Madrid’s 4-1 extra-time win over city rivals Atletico Madrid in Lisbon in May ended their 12-year wait for a 10th European Cup and they now look even stronger after a characteristically extravagant close-season recruitment drive.
Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Keylor Navas arrived at the Bernabeu after impressing at the World Cup and all are in line to feature at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The first glimpse of 80-million-euro ($108 million) playmaker Rodriguez in a Madrid shirt is keenly anticipated after he dazzled for Colombia in Brazil, scoring six goals to win the Golden Boot.
With the 23-year-old former Monaco playmaker joining Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in the Spanish capital, Madrid now possess three of the four most expensive players of all-time.
The trio could grace a pitch together for the first time in Cardiff, but like Kroos, who arrived from Bayern Munich after starring in Germany’s World Cup triumph, Rodriguez is short of fitness and unlikely to start.
Along with Costa Rican goalkeeper Navas, the pair only returned to training last week and coach Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that his players are some way short of peak condition.
“We had to give holidays to some players until August 5,” said the Italian. “Therefore, we haven’t had much time to prepare for the game. We need to try our hardest in August to prepare the players in the best way possible for the new season.”
The Super Cup is one of six trophies that Madrid could win this season, but they are still searching for their first pre-season victory after two defeats and a draw on their tour of the United States.
One player who seems certain to start is Welsh forward Bale, who was born and raised in Cardiff and went to school just four miles (6.4 kilometres) from Tuesday’s match venue.