It's tough to see Ancelotti on the other side

Tonight, in New Jersey, we will be treated to a Real Madrid-Bayern Munich fixture, or something similar. And I say that because both sides will far removed from what could be considered their genuine line-ups. In even years, when there is a World Cup or European Championship (and this year, with a Copa América thrown in as well) the star players have been given extended holidays, and Madrid and Bayern have plenty of those. Today we can expect Madrid to line up similarly to their two previous games, although Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos and James Rodríguez may get a run-out. Bayern are also without most of their big names, including new addition Renato Sanches.

The game will pit Madrid against Carlo Ancelotti, and it is hard to see him on the other side. He left good memories behind him and his dismissal so unjust that Florentino Pérez’s handling of the situation led to a large shred of his prestige being jettisoned. The fans loved Ancelotti and it showed. He understood Madridismo. His departure led to the sad episode involving Rafa Benítez, so different to Ancelotti, which was remedied with Zidane’s promotion. The Frenchman learned the ropes from Ancelotti as his assistant. There is a little of Ancelotti in Zidane’s methods, an adherent as he is of not smothering his players, but giving them enough slack to bring out the best in them.

But even with missing players, with a friend in the other dugout (and one on the pitch in Xabi Alonso), Madrid v Bayern is still Madrid v Bayern. The Bavarians are Real’s biggest European enemy, against whom they have suffered a number of setbacks they would prefer to erase from memory. For that reason, the result in this match matters. Furthermore, the side that will play Sevilla in a few days in the European Supercup will not differ much from the one that plays Bayern in New Jersey. Let’s see if Benzema is finally fit for that one. Jesé is off, and Morata needs to step up his game. Maybe that will happen tonight…