Barcelona - Real Madrid Preview: Vilanova and Mourinho square off in Supercopa showdown
While tensions between the two coaches have cooled since last August's acrimonious meeting, they will want to make a statement of intent by winning the season's first Clasico derby
By Karthick Arvinth
Alves, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba
Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas
Pedro, Messi, Iniesta
Arbeloa, Albiol, Ramos, Marcelo
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
Alex Song could go straight into Barcelona's squad to face Real Madrid in the Supercopa first leg on Thursday, after the midfielder completed his transfer from Arsenal.
Alexis Sanchez, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique are all pushing for starts, while David Villa is set to be named on the bench again, despite his return from an eight-month injury lay-off in Sunday's Liga victory over Real Sociedad.
Thiago Alcantara remains the Catalan side's only absentee as he continues his recovery from a tibia injury.
Real Madrid defender Pepe looks certain to miss the trip to Camp Nou after suffering a nasty collision with team-mate Iker Casillas during Sunday's 1-1 draw with Valencia, although the injury is not deemed to be serious.
Raul Albiol is expected to deputise for the Portugal international in defence, while Marcelo, Sami Khedira and Karim Benzema are all hoping to earn recalls to the starting XI.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Barcelona are meeting Real Madrid for the 220th time in all competitions, with the Catalan giants tallying 86 wins to Madrid's 87.
- The Blaugrana have lost just once in their last eight meetings with Real in all competitions (W4, D3, L1).
- Barca have won the last three editions of the Supercopa with victories over Madrid (2011), Sevilla (2010) and Athletic Bilbao (2009), respectively.
- Lionel Messi (pictured right) has scored 13 goals in 19 Clasico encounters across all competitions. Only Cesar Rodriguez has scored more for Barcelona against Madrid (14).
- Real Madrid have lost just once under Jose Mourinho in their last four trips to Camp Nou (W1 D2 L1).
- Mourinho's overall record in El Clasico matches reads W2 D4 L5.
- Eight of the last 10 red cards in Clasico encounters have been handed to Madrid players.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored six goals in 16 previous meetings with Barca, including his time at Manchester United.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid CF
- 14.71 %
FC Barcelona 3-1 Real Madrid CF
- 13.47 %
FC Barcelona 2-0 Real Madrid CF
- 11.19 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Oct 26, 2013||FC Barcelona 2 - Real Madrid CF 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Mar 2, 2013||Real Madrid CF 2 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Feb 26, 2013||FC Barcelona 1 - Real Madrid CF 3|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Jan 30, 2013||Real Madrid CF 1 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Oct 7, 2012||FC Barcelona 2 - Real Madrid CF 2|
|Dec 11, 2013||FC Barcelona 6 - Celtic 1||UCL|
|Dec 6, 2013||F.C. Cartagena 1 - FC Barcelona 4||ESPC|
|Dec 1, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 1 - FC Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|Nov 26, 2013||Ajax 2 - FC Barcelona 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||FC Barcelona 4 - Granada 0||LIGA|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|22||Ángel Di María||Midfielder|
The Argentine forward was at his menacing best as he scored twice and had several chances to complete his hat-trick on Sunday against Real Sociedad. He will look to continue that momentum into the match against Madrid, against whom he has failed to register in the last four matches across all competitions.
With Real likely to stay tight at the back and play on the counter, Ronaldo will have to be at his sharpest to pierce Barca's defensive line and put away any chances that come his way. Mourinho will demand a drastic improvement from the Portugal captain's anonymous performance against Valencia at the weekend, where he failed to register a single shot on target.
Barcelona looked sharper and livelier than Madrid at the weekend, although it must be said Real were playing against stronger opposition. The loss of Pepe to injury is a big blow for the visitors, though, and the Catalans will fancy their chances of winning this to set up a mouth-watering second leg at the Bernabeu next week.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed