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Ronaldo, Pepe miss UEFA Super Cup

dpa logodpa 7/08/2016

Real Madrid will go into their season-opening UEFA Super Cup clash with Sevilla without the holidaying Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe.

Real Madrid will kick off their season on Tuesday against Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup without star striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo, 31, is on holiday until Wednesday, after having helped Portugal to a surprise triumph at Euro 2016.

Also on holiday until Wednesday is fellow Portugal veteran Pepe, who played such a crucial role for his adopted country in the July 10 shock final defeat of hosts France.

The UEFA Super Cup is the traditional curtain-raiser to the European season, played between the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League.

This will be the fourth all-Spanish Super Cup clash.

In 2006 Sevilla - who have won the Europa League (previously known as the UEFA Cup) an astonishing five times in the past 10 years - surprisingly thumped Barcelona 3-0.

In 2014 Sevilla lost 2-0 against Real, on a brace from Ronaldo, and a year ago they were edged 5-4 by Barca in a breathtaking encounter.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane - whose salary has been doubled after winning the club's 11th Champions League title in May - will probably also be without Karim Benzema, who is struggling with a hip injury, and youngster Jese, who is reportedly poised to join Paris Saint-Germain.

In their place leading the line will be Alvaro Morata, who has just rejoined The Whites after two years at Juventus.

"It's great to be back at Real Madrid, which is where I want to be," the Spain striker said.

"My dream is to triumph here, and now I have the chance to do so.

Two other players keen to impress Zidane are midfielders James Rodriguez and Isco, who are both anxious to avoid being sold off in the summer transfer window.

Rodriguez and Isco will probably start in Trondheim because neither Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale are match fit, having just finished their holidays after helping Germany and Wales respectively to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Meanwhile, Tuesday will see Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli make his official debut on the Sevilla bench after replacing Unai Emery, who has left for Paris Saint-Germain.

"Real Madrid are a great team. But we are planning to make things difficult for them in Trondheim, and I really think we will do so," Sampaoli said.

Remarkably, only four players from that 2014 Super Cup defeat - Vicente Iborra, Vitolo, Nico Pareja and Daniel Carrico - are still in the Sevilla squad, thanks to the club's crafty policy of buying cheap and selling expensively.

The latest players to be sold off are strikers Kevin Gameiro and Fernando Llorente, without Luciano Vietto arriving from Atletico Madrid to replace them.

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