22.30, TV3 and La1: Barça will face off against Real Madrid this evening as the Azulgranas look to claim their first title under Tito Vilanova. Barça come into the match against Real Madrid with a 3-2 advantage from the away leg of the Super Cup
Any result from the last Madrid-Barça matches at the Bernabéu - five victories and two draws - would be enough for Barça to claim the title
Tito Vilanova may have to rule out Carles Puyol, who sustained a cheekbone fracture in this weekend’s game against Osuasuna, even though the defender travelled with the team to Madrid this morning
Super Cup dominance
The Azulgranas have won a total of 11 Spanish Super Cups and if they win tonight they’ll increase their lead over Madrid, who have won 8 Super Cup titles. In addition, Barça will be the only team to ever claim four consecutive Spanish Super Cup titles if they win tonight (2009, 2010 and 2011).
Three months after winning the Copa del Rey against Athletic Club, Barça return to Madrid in search of another title. The 2012 Spanish Super Cup is up for grabs and Tito Vilanova’s men come into the match with a 3-2 advantage from last week’s away leg at the Camp Nou. Tonight’s Clásico against Madrid will take place at the Santiago Bernabéu, a stadium that’s been kind to the Azulgranas - in terms of results- over recent years, and Tito Vilanova could claim his first title as FC Barcelona’s head manager.
Recent history on Barça’s side
The Barça players know that winning the Spanish Super Cup will have little effect on the rest of the season, but the Azulgranas know that beating Madrid in the first official competition of the year would be an important morale booster. Over the past four years, FC Barcelona have secured fantastic results at the Santiago Bernabéu, starting with the 2 to 6 in the 2008/09 season and ending with last season’s 1 to 2 in the quarter-finals of the 2011/12 Copa del Rey. In total, Barça have won five games and drawn twice in their last seven visits to Real Madrid’s grounds. In fact, of Barça’s last seven results at the Bernabéu would be enough to claim the Club’s fourth consecutive Spanish Super Cup trophy.
The captain never fails
On Monday, Gerard Piqué said that “knowing ‘Puyi,’ he’ll be able to play on Wednesday without any problems. If he can play, he’ll be there.” The captain, despite his broken cheekbone, doesn’t want to miss the chance to lift the fist title of the Vilanova era and he’s told his manager that he’s ready to play at the Bernabéu. Messi, who is on excellent goalscoring form, also doesn’t want to miss tonight’s match. The Argentine has score five goals in the first three official matches of the season (4 in La Liga and 1 in the Spanish Super Cup) and tonight he’ll face off against one of his favourite victims (he has 14 career goals against Real Madrid).
Five-point advantage in La Liga as a backdrop
While Barça have a 100% start in its first three official games of the season, Madrid come into the return leg of the Spanish Super Cup with two defeats (Getafe and Barça) and one draw (Valencia). The defeat to Getafe in La Liga this weekend, in addition to the draw with Valencia in the first match of the domestic competition, leave Mourinho’s men five points behind Barça, who currently sit atop the standings. In any case, Vilanova and his men don’t place too much importance on Madrid’s slow start.
Pepe, who missed the away game, is back in Mourinho’s team after he successfully recovered from a terrible collision with Iker Casillas in the first match of the season. Real Madrid could also field Luka Modric, who signed a five-year contract with the team on Monday.