Playing on Sunday
Spanish Super Cup 1st Leg
Real Madrid vs Barcelona 21:30
MADRID - Real Madrid and Barcelona can get a handle on how their pre-season preparations are going when the sides clash in the Spanish Super Cup this weekend.
The traditional curtain raiser for the league campaign is going ahead despite the players’ union calling a strike for the first two weekends of the new campaign in the top two divisions.
Real and Barca, the world’s two richest clubs by revenue, slugged it out an unprecedented five times last season in three different competitions.
Barcelona came out on top in the league and Champions League semifinal while Real won the King’s Cup in a series of matches notable more for the increasingly acrimonious atmosphere between the clubs than for the quality of their football.
Hostilities resume again at the Bernabeu on Sunday with the second leg at the Nou Camp on Wednesday. La Liga is scheduled to kick off the following weekend.
Super Cup holders Barca have eclipsed their arch-rivals over the last three years by winning two European Cups and a treble of league titles, which means this showdown is important more as a psychological indicator of the clubs’ strengths.
Real coach Jose Mourinho ran Barca close in his first campaign in Spain and has often stated that his teams usually do better in his second year in charge.
They have won all seven pre-season warm-up matches with ease, though only Portuguese defender Fabio Coentrao has had the chance to make an impression out of the new arrivals.
Turkish midfielders Hamit Altintop and Nuri Sahin have been sidelined with injuries. Mourinho also has a doubt over Sergio Ramos, who pulled out of Spain’s squad for the midweek friendly against Italy with a recurrence of a back problem.
On the positive side, France striker Karim Benzema has been in fine form scoring eight goals in pre-season to date.
Barca boss Pep Guardiola, who has three wins and one draw from his four visits to the Bernabeu as coach, has yet to give his only new recruit so far his debut.
Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, along with Argentine Lionel Messi, have only just returned to training after July’s Copa America tournament.