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Barça will be looking to capitalise on their excellent form in 2021 to bring home the first silverware of the season, the Spanish Super Cup. Their bid to win the four-team tournament begins with a semi-final against Real Sociedad on Wednesday at 9.00pm CET.
Barcelona go into the game after hitting on their best run of form of the season so far. They have bounced back from a run of just two wins in eight games to go unbeaten in their last eight games and have leapt up to third in the table.
Just as important as the results is the football – the early season doubts seem to have vanished and there have been some especially polished performances since 2021 began, with three away wins in a row including a thoroughly impressive 4-0 win in Granada at the weekend.
Real Sociedad, meanwhile, have been heading in the opposite direction. After ten games they were top of the league, but since then they have only won one out nine, including a 2-1 defeat at Camp Nou (SEE VIDEO BELOW), and have tumbled down to fifth.
Introduced in 1980, the Spanish Super Cup was traditionally an encounter between the champions of La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Last season, for the first time ever, the event was expanded to also include the runners-up from both competitions. It was also switched from its traditional preseason slot to January, to be hosted for at least the first three editions by Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
However, due to Covid-19, this year’s edition is staying in Spain. All three venues are in Andalusia. Cordoba hosts Wednesday’s semi-final, and Real Madrid and Athletic Club will be meeting on Thursday in Malaga at the same time to determine the other team that will be appearing in Sunday’s final at La Cartuja, Seville.
Barça in the Super Cup
Barça have won the trophy more times than any club (13, with Real Madrid second on 11). The Catalans have also participated more than anyone else (24 times, with Real Madrid second on 16).
Barça’s most recent victory was in 2018, beating Sevilla 2-1 in the first edition to be played on foreign soil (Tangier, Morocco). They lost 3-2 to Atlético Madrid in last season’s semi-final.
Leo Messi is the top goalscorer in the history of the competition with 14 goals, twice as many as Raul of Real Madrid, who is second with 7 goals.
Barça and Real Sociedad will be playing at the Estadio Nuevo Arcángel in Cordoba, completed in 1993 and which normally holds 25,800 people but will of course be empty on this occasion. Cordoba has no airport, so the team will be flying to Sevilla and then travelling an hour and half by coach to get to the city.
The home of Cordoba CF has only ever seen one season of top flight football, 2014-15, when Barça won 8-0. Barça also drew Cordoba in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey in 2012-13, winning 2-0 away and then 5-0 at Camp Nou.
Gerard Piqué, Philippe Coutinho, Sergi Roberto and Ansu Fati all miss the game through injury, while Matheus has also been left out of the Barça squad.
What they’re saying
Martin Braithwaite: “The objective at this club is always to win titles and winning this would be a boost for our confidence to keep going and continue winning trophies for the rest of the season."
Ronald Araujo: "The Super Cup is very important for us. We want to play and win it. At Barça we fight very every title going."
Frenkie de Jong: "We want to win trophies and the Super Cup is the first of the year. It would be good for our confidence."
Ronald Koeman: "We are getting better. Lately the team has been confident and focused in all areas of the game. Our style is developing as well."
"It's a game against tough opposition and we can take an important step forward."
"In general the team has got better going forward. We have players getting into the box from midfield and our front players have great quality and can cause a lot of problems. Defensively, we are working hard as well."
"The other day there were players with a few niggles such as Messi, Dest and De Jong but it seems they will all be available. Araujo did work on his own. We will see this afternoon in the group session but I am confident that they will be 100%."
"Barça has to win things. Our mentality is to give everything always with the best team possible to get to the final."
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