At the weekend it was the turn of La Liga to get underway but this Thursday night the focus switches to the Spanish Super Cup, which brings together last season’s Cup winners (Barça) and league champions (Real Madrid). The first trophy of the 2012/13 campaign will be decided on the results of tonight’s duel in the Camp Nou and Wednesday’s return leg in the Santiago Bernabeu.
The first ‘el clasico’ of the season is the latest in a long line of encounters in recent years. Last year’s double header between the two sides produced a vibrant clash full of spectacular action and some controversy.
Third game in five days
For Barça, it will be the players’ third match in just five days, all of them in the Camp Nou. On Sunday, they got their league campaign off to a thrilling start with a 5-1 demolition of Real Sociedad. On Monday evening a Barça side featuring many youngsters from the reserves was beaten 0-1 by Sampdoria in the Joan Gamper Trophy.
But tonight it’s back to competitive action and they don’t come any bigger than a match between Barça and Real Madrid, the very first with Tito Vilanova at the helm. The manager has everybody fit and available except for Thiago, Abidal, Cuenca and Muniesa, all nursing long-term injuries. Much interest will centre around star new signing Alex Song, who trained alongside his new team-mates for the first time on Wednesday.
Defensive change for Real
A head injury sustained by Portuguese international Pepe in the opening league match against Valencia will keep the central defender out of tonight’s match. In his pre-match press conference, Jose Mourinho announced that his place would be taken by Albiol.
Barça tops the ranking of Super Cup wins with 10, two more than Real Madrid. A victory in this year’s competition would also make Barça the first club to win it four times in a row.