CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — After exquisite touches and exceptional goals established him as the World Cup's breakthrough star, James Rodriguez has a new platform to showcase his skills at Real Madrid — starting with his debut in the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday.
The versatile 23-year-old playmaker, who landed a $108-million move from Monaco after scoring a World Cup-leading six goals for Colombia, will be in the starting lineup for the European champions against Sevilla at Cardiff City's stadium.
"He can help the team to be better," coach Carlo Ancelotti said Monday. "He can play both in front and on the wings. He can also play behind the forward as he did at the World Cup, and he can also be deeper down as a more attacking midfielder."
Even though the Super Cup lacks the status of the Champions League, Ancelotti is preparing to unleash the full might of his team against the Europa League winners with another new signing, midfielder Toni Kroos, also being handed his debut. Kroos, who joined from Bayern Munich for around $40 million, hasn't played since featuring in Germany's World Cup final win over Argentina.
"He has joined training for past five days and shown he is up to the task," Ancelotti said. "He is a player with great abilities, in strategic terms, positing and helping other players."
It was only a year ago that Real spent $130 million to bring in Gareth Bale from Tottenham to link up with Cristiano Ronaldo, who cost only slightly less in 2009 when joining from Manchester United.
The spotlight in the Welsh capital at least is not on the newcomers or Ronaldo but on Bale, the Cardiff boy preparing to play for the Spanish giants on his home soil for the first time.
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