Old foes Barcelona and Real Madrid prepare to lock horns at the King Fahd Stadium in Saudi Arabia for the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup.
Despite welcoming a number of their big-hitters back to the fold following a devastating coronavirus outbreak, Barcelona still came unstuck in league action at the weekend, as Granada rallied to rescue a point against the 10-man Blaugrana on Saturday night.
After Luuk de Jong had struck first for Barcelona and teenage sensation Gavi was sent for an early bath for two bookable offenses, Granada’s Antonio Puertas struck for his side in the 89th minute of the contest as a frustrated Xavi witnessed his side take just one point back to base.
For this season this is the only trophy for which Barcelona will compete so they will give their best for this. Although, in terms of form and playing ability Real Madrid is in an advantageous position than Barca.
Barcelona has claimed a record 13 titles in the Spanish Super Cup but found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline against Athletic Bilbao last term – during which Lionel Messi saw red – and they also lost a five-goal thriller to Atletico Madrid the season before.
Xavi’s men do enter the contest on a six-game unbeaten streak across all tournaments. Also, they have only kept one clean sheet in their last nine competitive matches in all competitions. Real Madrid possesses a certain 300-goal hero ready to expose such frailties.
The former Lyon man has now followed in the footsteps of fellow 300-club members Alfredo Di Stefano, Raul, and Cristiano Ronaldo, with his goals on the day taking Real Madrid that one step closer to top-flight glory before they turn their attention to proceedings in the Middle East.
The first El Clasico of the season ended with Los Blancos winning 2-1 at Camp Nou back in October – their fourth successive win over Barcelona – and Real Madrid also won 5-1 over two legs in the final of the 2017-18 Spanish Super Cup.
Barcelona form (all competitions):
Real Madrid form (all competitions):
Barcelona defender Eric Garcia was taken off with a hamstring injury in the weekend’s draw with Granada, and the former Manchester City man will now face up to five weeks out of action.
Gavi’s suspension will instead carry over to his side’s next La Liga clash, and Clement Lenglet will be ready to deputize for Garcia in the heart of the back four.
As for Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Mariano Diaz and Gareth Bale are his only fitness concerns for the semi-final, with Dani Carvajal and Luka Jovic fit and raring to go.
It would be a surprise to see the former Everton boss make many alterations from the side that saw off Valencia, with Federico Valverde – who famously hauled Alvaro Morata down when he was clean through on goal in 2020 final – taking his place on the bench.
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Dest, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Gonzalez, Busquets, Gavi; Dembele, De Jong, Depay
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr