It is the primary time since 2020 — when the Supercopa was expanded and moved to Saudi Arabia — that the ultimate will fulfil the event’s authentic aim of pitting the reigning LaLiga champions, Barcelona, towards final season’s Copa del Rey winners, Actual Madrid.
It is also a repeat of final yr’s Supercopa ultimate, when a one-sided Clásico contest resulted in a 3-1 Barca win, setting them up for a triumphant second half of the season, which ended with the league title.
– Stream Supercopa on ESPN+: Barca vs. Real Madrid (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET)
Actual Madrid reached this ultimate with an exhilarating 5-3 additional time win over Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, earlier than Barca certified with a extra discreet 2-0 victory over Osasuna a day later.
Now the 2 giants go head-to-head on Sunday at Al-Awwal Park in Riyadh with the primary trophy of the Spanish season at stake.
Why Actual Madrid will win
Clásicos are notoriously unpredictable. Kind and circumstances are forgotten when the whistle blows. The result feels nearly fully unrelated to context.
What’s extra, each groups have gamers adequate to remodel a recreation single-handed, rendering irrelevant what’s gone earlier than. Simply have a look at latest conferences between these two.
Barcelona had been utterly, overwhelmingly dominant when the groups final met on Oct. 28 in LaLiga. Till, with simply over an hour performed, Jude Bellingham turned the sport at Montjuic on its head with a breathtaking goal out of nowhere — after which a late, dramatic winner — to provide Madrid the three factors.
Keep in mind the final Clásico in a cup competitors: the Copa del Rey semifinal second leg at Camp Nou in April 2023, which Madrid received at a canter, 4-0, simply as Barca had been making ready to raise the league title. Or their final Supercopa assembly in Riyadh, three months earlier, when Barca cruised to a 3-1 victory.
In different phrases, both staff is greater than able to profitable Sunday, so all the pieces we are saying must be taken with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, there are many causes for Madridistas to be optimistic.
Wednesday’s gripping 5-3 win over Atletico — through which Actual twice fought again from a aim down, to finally emerge victorious in additional time — was extra proof that this staff does not know when it is crushed. Serial winners like Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal might write the e book on what it takes to raise trophies.
Madrid have not misplaced since September. It is a well-balanced staff that appears harmful in assault, and — regardless of the proof on the contrary within the three targets conceded towards Atleti — is mostly stable in defence, conceding 11 targets in 19 LaLiga video games this season.
One other relentless competitor, Antonio Rüdiger, is in the very best type of his time at Madrid. Carvajal was the semifinal’s MVP. Federico Valverde is having a quietly distinctive season in a extra withdrawn midfield function. Then there’s the aim risk and big-game character of Bellingham.
Madrid’s squad can be reassuringly deep. On Wednesday, coach Carlo Ancelotti was in a position to name on Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga, Brahim Díaz, Joselu, Dani Ceballos and Arda Güler off the bench to assist get the staff over the road in additional time. Diaz, particularly, has been in electrical kind in latest weeks, forcing his means into Ancelotti’s plans and providing the staff one thing totally different in assault.
The largest doubt — and maybe the staff’s Achilles heel — is available in aim. Kepa Arrizabalaga began on Wednesday and was unconvincing as soon as once more, displaying a well-known lack of conviction in coming off his line to fail to cope with Atletico’s third aim. The suspicion is that Ancelotti now prefers Andriy Lunin and has given Kepa minutes on this month’s cup competitions to maintain his confidence up.
If repeated, it is a choice which might value the staff, when finals are so usually determined by nice margins. — Alex Kirkland
What does Barcelona want to alter to beat Actual Madrid?
Luis Garcia reacts to Barcelona’s 2-0 victory vs. Osasuna and previews the Supercopa de España ultimate vs. Actual Madrid.
Why Barcelona will win
Barcelona supervisor Xavi Hernández says final season’s Supercopa success, full with the win over Madrid within the ultimate, gave his gamers the idea they wanted to go on and win LaLiga for the primary time since 2019. He’s hoping for the same “click on” in Riyadh on Sunday to quieten the criticism that has accompanied Barça in latest months.
That criticism peaked in December when a two-game winless run noticed Barça slip seven factors behind LaLiga leaders Madrid and Girona. The complaints prolong past simply outcomes, although, and give attention to the performances produced even when profitable. Earlier than Thursday’s 2-0 win over Osasuna, Barça had not received a recreation by greater than a aim since Sept. 19, a run spanning 20 matches, and had not stored a clear sheet since Dec. 3.
With these streaks over, Barça, who’ve now received 4 consecutive matches in all competitions, will strategy the Clásico with a few of their confidence restored.
Pedri‘s return from damage helps. The midfielder got here on for the ultimate half-hour towards Osasuna, coinciding with an upturn in Barça’s show. Xavi stated the Spain worldwide provides “readability” to the staff’s soccer, whereas midfielder Frenkie de Jong famous Barça are “extra fluid” when he’s on the pitch.
The temptation shall be to start out Pedri on Sunday, though some warning should even be utilized given his latest damage historical past. He has solely been match to start out eight video games this season.
Nevertheless, Pedri’s significance to the system might override any vigilance, with Xavi highlighting Barça’s “DNA and methodology” as the most important causes to consider they will emerge victorious this weekend.
“We’ve to take the ball from Madrid and our DNA should shine by way of greater than ever,” he stated in a information convention on Thursday. “The instance is final yr’s ultimate. Madrid are in higher kind than they had been then, however we’ll attempt to dominate them and play toe-to-toe. It is the best second for us to indicate our greatest soccer.”
These are qualities Xavi usually preaches however different attributes led to final yr’s LaLiga title, which was constructed on a stable defensive base. That has been misplaced this season, with Barça already conceding extra targets by way of 19 LaLiga video games than they did in 38 final yr, however a return to final season’s again 4 introduced a clear sheet towards Osasuna. With full-back João Cancelo a doubt to face Madrid, they might stick with that recipe of Jules Koundé, Ronald Araújo, Andreas Christensen and Alejandro Balde.
A hamstring damage picked up by Raphinha towards Osasuna might lead Xavi again to selecting 4 midfielders, too, which was the tactic deployed in final season’s ultimate. Pedri might return alongside De Jong, Ilkay Gündogan and Sergi Roberto to supply management within the center and keep away from an end-to-end recreation that may probably favour Madrid. It could additionally reserve João Felix and Lamine Yamal for the second half after each gamers made such a big effect off the bench towards Osasuna. — Sam Marsden
Supercopa ultimate predictions
Kirkland: Actual Madrid 2-1 Barçelona. Bellingham — who else? — will rating the profitable aim and raise his first trophy with the membership.
Marsden: Barçelona 3-1 Actual Madrid. It is the previous cliche however kind actually does fly out the window in a Clásico, with the less-fancied staff usually prevailing. I feel Barça’s want for an enormous win might get them over the road on Sunday, simply because it did final yr.