The annual curtain raiser for the La Liga season will be a battle between the two heavy weights, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Sunday night’s game will be played in the Camp Nou before both teams head to Madrid for the 2nd leg on Wednesday.
Zidane’s men come into this game after a statement win against Manchester United. Fans and pundits alike have been gushing over the Madrid midfield. “The Fantastic Four” as Marca dubbed them—Isco, Kroos, Modric, and Casemiro—have led Madrid to wins over teams like Bayern Munich, Juventus, Atletico, and Manchester United. Their fluidity and movement paired with their tactical discipline and combativeness gives Madrid, the once elusive, balance. With the BBC free of injuries and available for selection, will Zidane go for a midfield four or revert back to accommodate the three front men? There will be at least one opening in the line-up as Luka Modric is suspended for the 1st leg. Mateo Kovacic and Isco are the most likely replacements.
As for Madrid’s opponents, the Blaugranas have swiped their competition aside in pre-season. They did not lose a single preseason match, which included their 3-2 clasico victory in Miami. Though, most of those matches featured one highly influential figure, a certain Brazilian by the name of Neymar. Sunday night’s clasico will be Barcelona’s first competitive game without the 222M euro man. That money has yet to be reinvested in the squad and Barcelona are a weaker team without Neymar. Madrid have an opportunity to make another statement and rub salt into the wounds of Barcelona with a win on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see if any tactical switches or rotations are implemented by Zidane and Valverde over the course of both games. A clasico Super Cup match up will elicit memories of the 2012 and 2013 battles, will we see that same competitive edge? Matches of that intensity will certainly test the fitness levels of both sides ahead of the La Liga season. For Madrid, the assault for Trophy number two of six begins on Sunday. Three days later it will finish at the Santiago Bernabeu. Fans from both sides will brace themselves ahead of the most bitter rivalry in world football.
Projected Line Ups:
Real Madrid XI: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Theo; Casemiro, Kroos, Kovacic; Isco, Benzema, Bale
Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Sergi Roberto; Deulofeu, Suarez, Messi
Prediction: Barcelona 2 (Messi x2) - Real Madrid 2 (Ronaldo, Isco)