In the first leg of the Supercopa de España (Spanish Supercup--I almost typed Spanish Supercop, can you imagine how cool that would be?), Real Madrid was unlucky to draw 2-2 with FC Barcelona in the Santiago Bernabéu. Madrid out-shot the Culés 20-6 (with Barcelona scoring on their only two shots on target), and Barça's keeper Victor Valdés was arguably the man of the match, as he made save after save while Madrid's offense thundered past the blaugrana's week back line.
Now, the battle turns to the Catalan capital, the ciudad condal, the epicenter of everything blaugrana, for the rematch. Madrid will come in both frustrated and excited; feeling both the cruel sting of a bad result mixed with the satisfying feeling of knowing that they outplayed a stunned-looking Barcelona.
And José Mourinho, Real Madrid's enigmatic coach, will be looking for revenge. Both times last season los blancos went to Barcelona they were sent back embarassed: the first, after an embarrassing drubbing; the second after having been eliminated (fairly or not), from the Champions League.
As Lucas wrote earlier, Moruinho will be running over some possible changes in his formation: should he shift in Fabio Coentrão into Angel di María's slot in the midfield? Or should he stick to the same 4-2-3-1 that was so ineffective last season, but so effective on Sunday?Well, the answers won't be easy to find--though we should know in a couple of hours. As we speak, Madrid's battalions have moved into Barcelona; but their foe is strong. No matter how well Madrid played in the first leg, they cannot (should not) be favored in this match.
Not only will Barça be playing their strongest starting line, with Xavi and Piqué inserted into the XI, they'll also have the comfort of a superstar off the bench. Barcelona's prodigal son Francesc Fábregas returned to his "home" yesterday, and could conceivably make his debut against his team's mortal rivals.
And we here at Managing Madrid welcome him to Barcelona: just like the great galácticos of Florentino's first term, this incarnation of Barcelona have falen victim to the need for more. More center midfielders; more options. But what they have in depth in the center they lack in the back.
And that is where Madrid's hammer blow must fall hardest. No matter the signings (over €70 million in total), Barcelona is still weak in defense: with all likelihood, they will start either Mascherano, Abidal, or Busquets at one of their CB spaces next to Piqué. In doing so, they will lose the speed, tenacity, and wherewithal that Puyol brings to their CB pairing--essentially, for Madrid fans, they will be vulnerable.
If Madrid can convert the opportunities that they failed to hammer home in the first match, then they will be well placed to take a positive result away from the Camp Nou. But if they fail to convert, they will pay: remember, Barça only need a tie by less than 2-2 to win the (irrelevant, but highly sought after) Supercopa de España.
We'll have the coverage of this supremely important-irrelevant match all the way through kickoff an beyond, so stay with us here at Managing Madrid. And for all of us, though our path to victory is laden with obstacles, we say with one voice, HALA MADRID!