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FC Barcelona go into the second-leg of the Spanish Super Cup knowing they need to produce a fantastic performance to beat their arch rivals and secure their first trophy of the season. Luckily, fantastic performances at the Bernabéu are something that Barça seem to do quite well so it is still all to play for ahead of the second leg on Wednesday 16 August at 11.00pm CET.
In the first leg at the Camp Nou on Sunday, the league holders took the lead through an unfortunate Piqué own goal before Cristiano Ronaldo and Marco Asensio responded to Lionel Messi’s coolly dispatched penalty kick. The blaugranas go into the second leg in optimistic mood and have been boosted by Ronaldo’s absence through suspension.
FC Barcelona’s players trained on Tuesday evening ahead of Wednesday’s match. Andrés Iniesta, who picked up a muscle injury in his right leg, and Thomas Vermaelen trained separately to the rest of the group and they both miss out on the squad for the return leg. Rafinha is also absent through injury.
The final squad of nineteen is as follows: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Semedo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Suárez, Messi, Mascherano, Deulofeu, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Aleix Vidal, Umtiti and Aleñá (26).
As for Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo is the most notable absence having been suspended for five games following his sending off at the Camp Nou.
Ernesto Valverde’s main message was that “nothing is impossible” ahead of the second leg. The Barça coach was in optimistic mood and said: “We maintain our idea of going there and winning the game and taking the title, we are not beaten. Although it will be tough, we have a chance and we will go for it.”
Valverde also urged his side to be more aware of Real Madrid’s counter-attacks following the first leg: “During the game we did well but in the end, with that push to attack, we left ourselves open a little and that’s where the game was decided.”
In his press conference, Zinedine Zidane sounded a note of caution ahead of the second leg: "Anything is possible. In football, nothing is certain. We’ll have to play very well because Barcelona can cause you problems at any time.”
FC Barcelona’s flawless preseason record in which they beat Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid on their US tour before a 5-0 win in the Gamper Trophy over Chapecoense meant they went into the first-leg with optimism.
The visitors’ preseason has been less consistent. They beat Manchester United on Tuesday to claim the UEFA Super Cup, but lost to the same opposition, Manchester City and Barça while in the US.
The two sides will have played three Clásicos before La Liga kicks off with the friendly in Miami and the two-legged Spanish Super Cup. Barça won in the US before Real returned from Barcelona with a first leg advantage ahead of the third meeting on Wednesday.
The last time these two sides met in the Spanish Super Cup was in the 2012/13 season in which FC Barcelona won 3-2 at the Camp Nou but lost out on away goals following a 2-1 reverse at the Bernabéu. However, the year before, the blaugranas were victorious with a 3-2 second-leg victory at home clinching a thrilling 5-4 aggregate win.
Last season, the two La Liga meetings were pulsating affairs with Sergio Ramos’ 89th minute equaliser at the Camp Nou providing plenty of drama but paling in comparison to Messi’s last gasp strike at the Bernabéu which gave his side an epic 3-2 win.
WORLDWIDE TV COVERAGE
The good news is there is no need to miss out on any of Wednesday’s action as we have a handy TV guide which gives you all the information you need on when and where you can watch Barça on TV. If you can’t watch live then don’t worry as you can listen to English commentary on Radio Barça, or follow our minute-by-minute updates on FC Barcelona’s official Twitter account throughout the game.
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