It’s been five years since the last Supercopa de Espana between Barcelona and Real Madrid, a rivalry that is followed keenly around the world, and after their five-goal thriller in Miami, the teams will reunite at the Camp Nou on Sunday (22.00 CET).
The second, and definitive, leg will take place across Wednesday and Thursday, thus opening another season of Spanish football in style.
Barcelona start life without Neymar whilst Madrid continue to do whatever Zinedine Zidane wants.
It’s impossible to resist the interest aroused by an El Clásico clash, even in August, and this time, it will see the official debut of Ernesto Valverde on the home side’s bench.
Although the team has had a great pre-season, with notable performances against Juventus, Manchester United and Madrid, Neymar’s sale has transmitted doubts to the supporters, who could only celebrate a Copa del Rey last season whilst Sunday’s visitors completed a LaLiga and Champions League double.
In the absence of a replacement for the Brazilian, Gerard Deulofeu is the favourite to take his place on the left side.
The youngster certainly has the skills to be a success, but often doesn’t use them correctly, so this match gives him a golden opportunity to shine.
He could also be a bright spot for a club that have struggled through a summer where they’ve not been able to land their transfer targets and seen their former president end up in prison.
Nevertheless, they can still rely on the ever-lasting genius of Leo Messi, the superior work ethic of Luis Suarez and the drive of Valverde.
With the exception of the injured Thomas Vermaelen and Rafinha all players are available, though Munir and Douglas, whose future is far from the Camp Nou, are unlikely to feature.
With eleven spots up for grabs, Marc-Andre ter Stegen could replace Jasper Cillessen whilst Aleix Vidal could take advantage of Nelson Semedo’s slower-than-expected adaptation.
Changes in Madrid
The LaLiga champion, whose last Spanish Super Cup was in 2012 against Barcelona, has just won a new title, the European Super Cup.
Renewals for Zidane and Isco are in the pipeline and the thorny issues, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale’s situations, seem resolved.
Zizou will have to decide whether to play BBC or continue packing out his midfield.
Ronaldo can play 45 minutes, but not much more and if the French coach is true to his ideals, Madrid will have new players in the starting eleven: possibly Theo for Marcelo, Mateo Kovavic for Modric, and perhaps also Marco Asensio.