02:05 BST, Wednesday 8th August, MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, New Jersey)
Real Madrid began life under boss Julen Lopetegui with a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami last week, also their first game since Cristiano Ronaldo completed his £100 million move to Juventus.
They now face a Roma side who also saw some big names depart this summer with goalkeeper Alisson Becker and midfielder Radja Nainggolan both heading for pastures new.
Both clubs have welcomed new arrivals, though, with Los Blancos adding the likes of winger Vinicius Junior and right-back Alvaro Odriozola to their ranks, while Roma’s significant acquisitions included attacking midfielder Javier Pastore - who made the switch from Paris Saint-Germain - former Ajax winger Justin Kluivert and forward Gregoire Defrel, who moved from fellow Serie A side Sassuolo.
This will be the last game Real Madrid play before facing city rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup final in ten days and the last for Roma before their league campaign begins on August 19th.
Last Time Out
Real Madrid 3-1 Juventus [International Champions Cup]
Now burdened with extra responsibility since the departure of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale showed exactly what he is capable of with a stunning goal to spark a revival against Juventus. The Italians were without their new signing however, who is still on extended leave following his World Cup exploits.
The Spanish side fell behind to a Dani Carvajal own goal after just 12 minutes before Bale set the stadium alight with his long range effort on the half-volley.
A second half brace from Marco Asensio sealed the win for Lopetegui’s men who have just 10 days to breathe before they are back in competitive action. Asensio looked impressive and linked up well with 18-year-old recruit Vinicius Junior for the second goal, the Brazilian squaring coolly after working himself into space.
The Old Lady looked jaded in the second half and could not match the energy of their opponents. The game finished a comfortable win for the Spaniards.
Barcelona 2-4 Roma [International Champions Cup]
Roma bounced back from a 4-1 ICC defeat to Tottenham Hotspur with an impressive win over reigning La Liga champions Barcelona.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s men had to come from behind twice at the AT&T Stadium after Rafinha and then Malcom - of all the players - put the Catalans ahead either side of a Stephan El Shaarawy goal.
Malcom’s goal provided the game’s most ironic moment as the former Bordeaux winger was due to sign for Roma recently before Barcelona stepped in with an improved offer.
Roma’s three-goal flurry late in the second half came after both sides have made a significant number of substitutions.
Real Madrid Lineup
With little time left to prepare for the Super Cup final in Tallinn, Julen Lopetegui should field a strong lineup with Sergio Ramos in contention after returning from holiday.
With World Cup winner Raphael Varane only just back in training in Madrid, Jesus Vallejo could slot in at centre-back.
The Basque coach might also to give recent recruit Vinicius Junior another start after impressing in the game against Juventus.
Davide Santon could make way for Aleksandar Kolarov while recent arrival from Atalanta, Bryan Cristante, could also feature from the start along with attacking midfielder Javier Pastore, who could step in for veteran Daniele De Rossi.
Robin Olsen will continue in goal as he looks to establish himself as the club’s new number one following the departure of Alisson to Liverpool.
Key Battle: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) vs Robin Olsen (Roma)
Both teams lost their strongest players this summer and others will look to step up. And for Real Madrid, it's Welshman Bale that will hope to increase his goal tally now that Ronaldo has said goodbye, whereas it's Swedish 'keeper Olsen looking to establish himself as number one in the wake of Alisson's departure.
Olsen conceded twice on his debut, but is still getting to know his teammates. He will have his work cut out convincing Roma fans, though, a group that have endured the club’s hit and miss approach to goalkeeper recruitment - Alisson the notable exception to the rule recently.
Olsen’s lack of experience at the top level has already aroused suspicions, causing some to wonder if the club have overpaid for a player on the back of a strong World Cup. A good performance here could allay those concerns.
Can Gareth Bale fill the void?
Ronaldo’s departure has elevated Bale's status at the club and boss Lopetegui will count on the Welshman to help fill the void, a role he is already relishing.
Having stolen the limelight from Ronaldo in the Champions League final victory against Liverpool, Bale will now want to show he is ready to step out of the shadows permanently.
Can Roma improve despite big name departures?
During his time in Spain, sporting director Monchi helped put Sevilla on a solid financial footing after a period of instability, while also keeping the club competitive.
Since arriving in Rome, he has already conducted some shrewd business and earned the club a tidy sum in transfer fees. The question remains whether the club will compete at the highest level this season, though.
The Romans finished third in the league last term, but were 14 points adrift of second-ranked Napoli. They will want to close that gap while progressing as far as possible in the Champions League, with last year’s semi-final the benchmark. That, whilst still returning a profit in the transfer window.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Roma
Real Madrid will step up their preparations for the UEFA Super Cup by fielding a strong XI while Di Francesco continues to tinker. The Spanish team's quality should see them edge the win.
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