Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 23/10
FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will live another chapter in their heated rivalry. This time, Los Blaugranas and Los Merengues will play in the 2017 Spanish Super Cup. The traditional tournament will kick off the season in Spain, but it will also be another chance to see how two of the best teams in the world look for the upcoming season. The first leg will be played this Sunday at Camp Nou Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled at 9:00 PM UK time.
Barcelona have been one of the most active teams in the transfer market this summer, and not because they have added too many players. They replaced Luis Enrique with Ernesto Valverde on the bench, but their biggest movement was the loss of Neymar. The Brazilian star signed with PSG for a world-record €222 million fee, so Barca needs to replace him accordingly. Gerard Deulofeu retuned from his stint at Everton, but they need something else. Philippe Coutinho, Christian Eriksen and Ousmane Dembele have been mentioned as potential signings, but nothing has been confirmed. And even if they replace Neymar or not, there is no doubt Barcelona will miss him. So it is quite an enigma to see how they will play with a new manager and without one of their most important players.
Ernesto Valverde will not have many absences for his competitive debut with Los Blaugranas.
Finding a replacement for Neymar will undoubtedly be Valverde’s toughest task. Gerard Deulofeu seems to have the inside track to start.
On the other hand, Real Madrid already kicked off their season with a 2-1 thrilling win over Manchester United in the 2017 UEFA Super Cup. And as one would expect, Zinedine Zidane is not going to make many changes to the side that already lifted the first trophy in a young 2017-18 campaign. Madrid have been heavily linked with a move for Kylian Mbappe, but it is not like they need the French starlet. They lost Pepe, James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata during the summer, but reinforced their lines with the presence of players such as Jesus Vallejo, Dani Ceballos, and Borja Mayoral, so one could say they did not lose any of their depth. And it’s not like they needed many reinforcements. After all, Real are coming off a season where they won the Liga and the Champions League. Can they continue to dominate Spain this new season?
Real Madrid are almost at full strength ahead of this contest. Their lone confirmed absence is Luka Modric, as the Croatian playmaker received a red card during the 2014 Super Cup against Atletico Madrid.
The presence of Cristiano Ronaldo in the starting XI is not a sure thing, either. Isco and Gareth Bale started in the UEFA Super Cup, but if CR7 is fit, then one of them will likely head to the bench.
Key Factors to Consider
- Both clubs have combined for 21 Super Cup titles. Barcelona have 12, and Real Madrid have nine.
- These two clubs played during preseason this year, and Barca won 3-2. Los Blaugranas won by that exact same score when both clubs met in La Liga in April 23, 2017.
- Barcelona and Real Madrid have played 233 times in their history. Madrid have 93 wins, Barcelona have 91, and there have been 49 draws.
- 12 of those games have been in the Spanish Super Cup context. Real have won six of them, while Barca have won four and there have been two draws.
- Real have won five of the six Super Copa titles against Barcelona. The last time they met was in 2012 and Madrid won by away goals after a 4-4 draw on the aggregate score.
FC Barcelona seem to have the advantage on paper since they will play at home, and there is no greater motivation than taking the lead on a playoff tie against their biggest rivals. But Barcelona lost Neymar – who had been their best player during preseason – and truthfully, no one knows how they will react to the loss of their star forward.
On the other hand, Real maintain the same squad than last season and looked quite good in the match against Manchester United. I see Los Merengues coming out on top even though the game will be played at Camp Nou.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 23/10
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