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Arsenal vs. Utd: Mutual hatred

50-50 Challenge 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Aug 9, 2007

Super Cup catches Real in state of transition

MADRID, Aug 9 (Reuters) - New Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster has the chance to gauge how far his rebuilding programme has progressed when his side visit King's Cup winners Sevilla for the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Saturday.

The German replaced Fabio Capello last month, after the Italian had just delivered Real their first major title in four years.

But the traditional curtain-raiser to the season between the Primera Liga champions and the cup holders catches the side in transition.

The likes of left back Roberto Carlos, centre-back Ivan Helguera and midfielders David Beckham and Jose Antonio Reyes have all moved on and the replacements so far have yet to fire the imagination.

Former Porto centre-back Pepe, brought in for 30 million euros ($41.3 million) last month, has been the pick of the new faces in pre-season friendlies but Argentine striker Javier Saviola and Germany centre-back Christoph Metzelder have struggled.

Real have been scouring the markets for further reinforcements and last weekend Real president Ramon Calderon said three or four new signings were imminent.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Cesc Fabregas and Michael Ballack have all shunned Real's approaches, though the protracted negotiations for Chelsea winger Arjen Robben and Feyenoord wingback Royston Drenthe look close to being resolved.

'The team's progressing. We are improving in some areas although there is still work to do,' Schuster said after his side's unconvincing 1-0 win over Portuguese side Belenenses on Wednesday.

'We are trying to bring new players that will help us improve, but we still have time before the season starts.'

Metzelder and last season's top scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy are injury doubts while Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain is out with a torn thigh muscle.

UEFA Cup holders Sevilla appear to have closed their transfer dealings for next season though are under pressure to sell Brazil right back Daniel Alves to Chelsea.

Alves has recovered from a minor knee injury but fellow defenders Javi Navarro and Julien Escude are almost certain to be absent.

New loan signing Khalid Boulahrouz is also undergoing tests on a muscle strain and is a doubt along with Mali striker Frederic Kanoute.

Sevilla have one eye on their debut in the Champions League next week, earned through a third place finish in the Primera Liga, when they are due to face AEK Athens in the third qualifying round.