FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid
Competition/Round: 2022 Supercopa de España, Semi-Final 1
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Eric García, Sergi Roberto, Martin Braithwaite, Yusuf Demir (out)
Real Madrid Outs & Doubts: Gareth Bale, Mariano Díaz (out)
Date/Time: Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 10pm AST (local time), 8pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 7pm GMT (UK), 2pm ET, 11am PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Thursday)
Venue: King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Referee: José Luis Munuera Montero
VAR: José Luis González González
How to watch on TV: ESPN (USA), BT Sport 1 (UK), #Vamos (Spain), others
How to stream: ESPN+ (USA), BT Sport Live (UK), others
Following a tough draw against Granada in La Liga at the weekend, Barcelona return to action with a trip to Saudi Arabia for the Spanish Super Cup semi-final against Real Madrid in the second El Clásico of the season.
This is the first time Barça and Madrid face off in this new format of the Supercopa, with the winner going up against either Athletic Bilbao or Atlético Madrid in the final on Sunday. The Super Cup is undoubtedly the least important competition in the calendar and wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if the semi-final was against Athletic or Atlético, but the fact that it’s El Clásico changes things for everyone involved.
Xavi Hernández spoke before the game and framed the match as a measuring stick, a way of knowing how much Barça have evolved since these two played each other at Camp Nou in the league back in October. Madrid won a close game by a score of 2-1 but didn’t need to get out of second gear against Ronald Koeman’s Barça.
Since Xavi took over Barça have played better football, defended better and earned more points in La Liga, and their competitive spirit is at a much higher level than before. But Real Madrid also look a lot better over the last three months, with the La Liga title very much theirs to lose and an attack that simply cannot stop scoring goals thanks to the insane form of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side is playing excellent football on both ends, their midfield still looks just as good as it did five years ago, and they are no doubt the best team in the land and the favorites to win El Clásico. Barça have improved enough to put up a big fight, though, and the squad looks really strong this time: Pedri, Frenkie De Jong, Ansu Fati and new signing Ferran Torres are all available to come off the bench and wreak havoc in the second half, so if Barça can keep it close until the 60-minute mark then the all-stars might take over and pull off the upset.
This should be fun. Let’s dance.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Neto; Alves, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Nico, Busquets, Gavi; Dembélé, Memphis, Ez Abde
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militão, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius
Real Madrid are favorites and better than they were in the last Clásico, but so are Barça. I expect a really close, high-level game that might go to extra-time with Barça looking really competitive all night but Los Blancos eventually finding a way to win: 3-2 Madrid.