What: Spanish Super Cup
Who: Barcelona vs Real Madrid (first leg)
When: Thursday 23rd August, 2012, at 21:30 UK time
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
The 5-1 win over Real Sociedad in the opening fixture of the season has left Barcelona with a high amount of confidence ahead of the Spanish Super Cup against La Liga champions Real Madrid. The cup holders will remember their 5-4 aggregate win over Real Madrid in the same tournament almost a year ago too, but Los Blancos ended the previous campaign in a better position and as such, the emphasis is on Barcelona to do the de-throning.
Los Cules have been lifted by the arrival of Alex Song from Arsenal. However, it is unlikely that the Cameroonian will start the match against Los Merengues, with Tito Vilanova opting for a midfield three of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.
Up front, the Barcelona coach might chose to deploy David Villa on the left side of his attacking trident, as the Spanish striker has enjoyed good times whenever he has played against Real Madrid, with Lionel Messi fielded as a “false nine”. The world’s best player will be relishing his challenge on the night; especially given the fact that the tough-tackling Pepe might miss this one.
Not the Best Possible Start
A win against Valencia during the opening weekend of La Liga would have been the ideal result for Real Madrid going into this first leg Clasico clash. In front of their own fans at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, where they have been imperious in recent seasons, Los Blancos got off on the wrong foot as they were held to a draw. Against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, it is clear that much more is needed for the champions to overcome the hosts.
Furthermore, a win against Los Che would have surely boosted the spirits of Jose Mourinho’s men going into this game, especially with their victory in La Liga against Barcelona last April still in the minds of the team. However, club skipper Iker Casillas was quick to reassure the club’s fans after the draw with Valencia that his side are going for the spoils Catalonia.
“It will be a beautiful, exciting match, in which two teams that play football and create goals go head to head. We are going there with the idea of winning.”
Dinamo Bucharest 0-2 Barcelona (11/08; Friendly)
Barcelona 5-1 Real Sociedad (19/08; La Liga)
Barcelona 0-1 Sampdoria (20/08; Joan Gamper Trophy)
Real Madrid 5-1 AC Milan (08/08; Friendly)
Real Madrid 2-0 Celtic (11/08; Friendly)
Real Madrid 1-1 Valencia (19/08; La Liga)
Barcelona: Thiago Alcantara; Isaac Cuenca; Eric Abidal
Real Madrid: Pepe (doubt)
Players to watch
Barcelona – Jordi Alba: The Euro 2012 winner will dispute his first Clasico back at his original club, and in Jordi Alba, Barcelona have found an excellent heir to Eric Abidal’s left-back role. Against Alvaro Arbeloa, Alba will be facing a reliable full-back though. However, should Alba continue his Valencia form, then he will pose all sorts of problems for the Real Madrid defence.
Real Madrid – Sami Khedira: The German has become an integral part of the Real Madrid starting eleven and his work was even more appreciated after he scored the opening goal at the Camp Nou when the teams last met. Having been rested against Valencia, Khedira will need to be the destroyer of the Blaugrana’s midfield.
Real Madrid were certainly not expecting the result against Valencia, but they will need to forget that should they want to lift their first Super Cup since 2008. Barcelona so far appear the same without Josep Guardiola in charge, and should their display against Real Sociedad be any indication, then the travelling side will find it tough. Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid.
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