Associated Press – Champions League winner, Real Madrid, is in Cardiff, Wales, to face Europa League victor, Sevilla, in the Super Cup on Tuesday, and there's little doubt the star local attraction will be Gareth Bale, the Cardiff boy turned $130-million Real star, playing for the Spanish team on his home soil for the first time.
Bale netted the decisive goal in the Champions League final against Real's rival, Atlético Madrid, in Lisbon in May.
But internationally many eyes will be trained on Colombia playmaker James Rodríguez and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos both of whom are making their Real debuts.
The $108-million swoop for James from Monaco was wrapped up soon after he returned from a career-defining World Cup, scoring a tournament-leading six goals in Colombia's run to the quarterfinals.
Now the technically-gifted playmaker, who goes by his first name, is preparing to step into a star-studded Real team looking to collect the first of a possible six trophies this season.
"They are all stars," the 23-year-old James said. "For me it is a pleasure to be with them. Even training with them. It is something unique and I hope I can play here together with them for many years."
This year much of Real's concentration will be on becoming the first team in the post-1993 Champions League era to defend the European Cup — especially after waiting so long to bring it back to Santiago Bernabeu.
"When you get this title with Madrid it is the pinnacle for a player and hopefully we can repeat it in the future," defender Alvaro Arbeloa said. "We knew what it meant, not just for the club, but for all of our fans, and sharing that joy with them is something we will never forget ... Real Madrid's prestige has always been a result of its victories in Europe."
Even though the Super Cup lacks the status of the Champions League, it is a chance to put down an early marker as the European season begins.
"We are hungry to win a lot of titles and now we have another chance, we hope to make the most of it," Arbeloa said.
"These matches at the start of the season are different," Arbeloa added ahead of the trip to Cardiff. "Neither team is at full fitness and we'll certainly see more chances than there are in a European final. I hope it's an attractive match."
Then it's back to Spain for the two-legged domestic Super Cup on Aug. 19 and 22 against Atlético before the mission to take the league title off its city rival begins against newly-promoted Córdoba on Aug. 25.