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Football: Real Madrid even better than last season, insists Ancelotti

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti believes his side will be even stronger this campaign than the one which won the Champions League and Copa del Rey last season.

MADRID: Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti believes his side will be even stronger this campaign than the one which won the Champions League and Copa del Rey last season.

Madrid have added World Cup stars James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Keylor Navas at an expense of over €100 million as they aim to lift a potential six trophies this season.

They already have one to their name after defeating Sevilla 2-0 to win the European Super Cup in Cardiff last week and will face Atletico Madrid in a repeat of the Champions League final over two legs on Tuesday and Friday in the Spanish Super Cup.

"I think we have a better team than last season because we have signed three players that add quality to the team," Ancelotti said on Monday. Whilst Rodriguez and Kroos went straight into the starting line-up for the victory over Sevilla, Navas has had to wait to make his competitive debut and Ancelotti confirmed that Iker Casillas will once again start in goal.

Argentinean midfielder Angel di Maria also didn't feature in Cardiff amidst reports that he could be sold before the end of the transfer window with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly interested.

However, Ancelotti dismissed comparisons with Mesut Ozil this time last year before his deadline day move to Arsenal. "Di Maria is available like all the other players. It could be that he starts and has his chance, but he is just like the other players. Tomorrow one team will play and on Friday a different team will play.

"I don't remember the Ozil situation and I am not going to start talking about that topic because I will lose my concentration on tomorrow's game. I don't know what Di Maria has decided. He is ready and it could be that he can help us. Until August 31 that is the line we will take. Whether he stays or goes, after that everything will return to normal."

Atletico have also been busy in the transfer market as they have brought in nine players to help replace Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa who have all moved to Chelsea.

However, despite ending the dominance of Real and Barcelona to win La Liga last season, coach Diego Simeone has played down expectations ahead of the new campaign. "We need to look at Sevilla, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao. We will try to fight with them for the Champions League places," said the Argentine. "With €95 million we have signed nine players, Real Madrid have signed two players for €95 million. That is the difference."

Atletico will hand debuts to their star signings Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic in attack. However, Arda Tura misses out with a hamstring injury and new goalkeeper Jan Oblak will start on the bench as he lacks match fitness after suffering a hip injury in pre-season.

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