The La Liga is yet to kickstart, but for football fans, a mouth-watering clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid awaits with the Spanish Super Cup on the line. The two-legged El Clasico tie will take shape at Camp Nou (first leg) on Sunday. Can things get any bigger than this in Spain?
El Clasico is one of the biggest matches in world football, and when it comes just before the big season, expect a wonderful brand of football with entertainment written all over it.
Barcelona will be without their star player Neymar, who has signed for PSG, meaning that the MSN story is a thing of the past. Of the dangerous trio, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will try to share the goal-scoring responsibility. No matter what, Neymar will be missed in Spain.
Can Barcelona be less effective? Will Barcelona still be the same without Neymar? Can someone else step up? This match will give us a glimpse of Neymar-less Barcelona, who will be determined to start well in the first leg in front of their home fans.
However, with the likes of Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, they are always going to be as strong force with Suarez and Messi leading the line. However, the latter two will have to be on top of their game as they will under some sort of pressure to deliver in the Super Cup.
Under new manager, Ernesto Valverde, it will be interesting to see if the team flourishes or not, and the gaffer has a tough task, facing Real Madrid for the title.
"We know how good Madrid and they have a strong squad. They have just won the European Super Cup playing well but we just have to focus on ourselves. We will have to give our best to win, they will be two tough matches. We are focused on the game and whatever the talk is, we are only thinking about that," Barcelona official website quoted Ernesto as saying.
Barcelona will try to take inspiration from their win over Real Madrid in the El Clasico last month while Real will come into this confident after having defeated Manchester United in the Super Cup. If Real can bring a similar game as they did against Manchester United, Barcelona will find it difficult to shine during the night.
Real Madrid are expected to start with Cristiano Ronaldo, and the talismanic forward will be looking to clinch yet another title for the Spanish giants. They have so much depth in their squad that makes them an immediate favourite as well, not only for this game, but also the La Liga title. It is such squad that Real, under Zinedine Zidane, have won six titles in 18 months.
However, Real will have to keep their focus on Spanish Super Cup at present. They will take it one at a time.
With Isco looking in good orm, it would come as no surprise if Zidane decides to drop either Gareth Bale or Karim Benzema from the starting XI. The former may have to sit out in the bench.
"It (Super Cup) is special because it is another trophy. We know that playing against Barcelona is extra special. We are playing against our strongest rival, but for me that does not change things. We are in perfect shape both physically and mentally. Everyone wants to play and I will have a decision to make," Real Madrid's official website quoted Zidane as saying.
Barcelona and Real Madrid have won the Spanish Super Cup 12 and 9 times respectively. They are a team, who does not need to be taught about winning titles. Will it be Real or Barcelona this time?
The winner of the first leg will have decent advantage going into the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Where to watch live
Barcelona vs Real Madrid Super Cup is scheduled for 10 pm local time, 1:30 am IST, 9 pm BST. Here is the live streaming and Tv option.
India: Live Streaming: Sony Liv
UK: TV: Sky Sports. Live Streaming: Sky Go.
Spain: TV - TeleCinco Espana,TV3
US: TV: Espn3. Live streaming: Watch ESPN
Live streaming (subscription based): Barca TV
Live score: Twitter