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After Monday’s easy win over Chapecoense in the Joan Gamper Trophy, FC Barcelona’s season begins in earnest with a Clásico (Sunday 10.00pm CET) when Real Madrid come calling to the Camp Nou for the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Barça drew first blood under new manager Ernesto Valverde when these sides met late last month in Miami. In their two meetings last season, Barcelona claimed four points, including a famous last gasp win at the Santiago Bernabéu in April.
Barcelona’s players who trained emerged unscathed from Saturday’s evening session ahead of the game, and Ernesto Valverde has named an 18-man squad. Thomas Vermaelen has not recovered from a knock suffered in the Gamper Trophy, and will be absent along with André Gomes. The notable absentees are Arda Turan, Marlon, Samper, Munir, and Douglas. As for Real Madrid, Luka Modrić is suspended and youngster Jesús Vallejo injured.
The full squad list is as follows: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Nélson Semedo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Andrés Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Mascherano, Deulofeu, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, Aleix Vidal and Umtiti.
Ernesto Valverde conceded that these sides' clash in Miami was “a reference point”, adding "now it’s different. There is a title at stake, and they want to win as well,” in Saturday’s press conference. “We will have to give our best to win,” he continued. “There will be two tough matches.”
The former-Athletic Club boss was more than pleased with Leo Messi’s condition going into this one. “I see him in good shape, he’s having a great preseason in every sense and we hope to see him at his best tomorrow.”
For his part, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane was relatively upbeat. “Tomorrow we go into battle for another trophy. We have to be at our best, but we have an extraordinary squad”. However, he also admitted he would have preferred a one-off clash rather than over two legs.
Barcelona arrive into this one with a flawless record in preseason. On their US tour they dispatched Juventus, Manchester United and of course Real Madrid, before rounding off their preparations with a 5-0 Gamper Trophy victory over Chapecoense. For the visitors, the picture is mixed. They defeated Manchester United on Tuesday to claim the UEFA Super Cup, but lost to the same opposition on penalties in a US tour where they also suffered reverses to Manchester City and Barça.
It’s the first time these sides have met in the Spanish Super Cup in five years. At the outset of the 2012/13 campaign, Barcelona won 3-2 at the Camp Nou but a 2-1 reverse in the away leg saw them lose out on away goals.
The season before saw another close encounter in this competition, but this time the outcome was a happier one for the Blaugrana. A 3-2 second leg win on home turf meant Barça prevailed 5-4 on aggregate.
More recently, last season’s La Liga meetings both featured late drama. At the Camp Nou in December, Sergio Ramos appeared to have rescued a point for his team with an 89th minute header, but Barcelona would have their revenge at the Bernabéu when Messi struck at the death to seal a 3-2 win.
Worldwide TV Coverage
Wherever you are during the action, we’ve got you covered. If you can’t tune in on TV, you can listen in to English commentary on Radio Barça, as well as following our minute-by-minute updates on FC Barcelona’s official Twitter account throughout the game. Don’t miss out!
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