The Spanish Super Cup Final takes place on Sunday in Riyadh and it’s safe to say that both the Spanish Football Federation and their Saudi hosts have got the Final they’d have been hoping for.
This competition and particularly its location is far from popular in Spain, but El Clasico is always a big deal regardless of where or why it is played. With silverware on the line this weekend, the Al-Awwal Stadium should be packed to its 25,000 capacity for the game with millions tuning in around the world as Barcelona and Real Madrid meet for the second time this season.
As was also the case with the first meeting, unfortunately this game won’t be available on TV in the UK though, with no broadcasters having picked up the rights for the competition.
The first Clasico of the campaign was decided by Jude Bellingham back in October in Barcelona. For more than an hour, it was actually one of the Englishman’s quietest games since his hugely successful move to Spain with Barca the better side. However the 20 year old fired in 68th and 92nd minute strikes as Los Blancos staged a late rally to come back to win 2-1.
Barcelona are the underdogs for this Sunday’s meeting but they can take some confidence from how they managed to pen Real Madrid back for large periods of that particular game. They also finally ended a 20 game streak where they’d failed to win by more than a single goal on Thursday, seeing off Osasuna 2-0 in the Semi-Final of this competition.
While it did still take a Stoppage Time goal from the lively Lamine Yamal to truly kill the game off, Barca will approach this Final in slightly better spirits. Robert Lewandowski was also on target in the game, a timely boost to his confidence levels after a run of just one goal in six league outings for the striker.
This is a repeat of the 2023 Final which Barcelona impressively won 3-1, although they feel like a less convincing team in every area of the pitch twelve months on.
Iñaki Peña is doing a reasonable enough job of filling in for the injured Marc-André ter Stegen in goal, but defensively they are nowhere near as solid this term and they’ve already conceded more league goals than they did in the whole of last season.
The absence of Sergio Busquets in the holding midfield role is also perhaps a factor in that and Xavi’s search for midfield balance has been hampered by injuries. In the final third, Joao Felix has faded after a bright start and again there are selection conundrums that didn’t really exist last term, but there is still clearly too much individual quality in their ranks to totally write off Barcelona in a one-off game like this.
Real Madrid will know that and their thrilling 5-3 Semi-Final win over Atletico Madrid on Wednesday showcased some of their own weak spots that Barca may look to exploit here.
A very shaky display from Kepa in goal added to the growing sense that Andriy Lunin should now be considered Real Madrid’s first choice keeper in the absence of the injured Thibaut Courtois. Meanwhile Nacho’s poor form since replacing the injured David Alaba is another area of concern which could yet force Los Blancos into the transfer market for a central defender this month.
On a brighter note, there were also many positives for Real Madrid in their Extra Time derby victory and their ability to score five goals without any of their starting forwards or midfielders getting on target was really striking.
Having the likes of Joselu and the increasingly impressive Brahim Diaz to bring on off the bench should stand them in good stead if this match goes the distance. Early season talk of a dependency on Bellingham for goals has faded and Real Madrid’s ability to score goals in many different ways should increase further once Vinicius gets back to full fitness.
Real Madrid made it through the midweek game without any fresh injuries, but there are two changes that look possible from Carlo Ancelotti here.
One is in goal, where Andriy Lunin may replace Kepa. The pair have been rotating in and out in any case over the past couple of months, but Kepa’s Semi-Final error may cost him his place here.
Toni Kroos may also rotate in for Luka Modric in midfield. The German did come on against Atletico, only for his every touch to be booed by a largely Real Madrid supporting crowd, seemingly in response to comments he made about European players moving to Saudi Arabia in the summer.
As for Barcelona, they’re likely to be unchanged at the back with Joao Cancelo still struggling with an injury. Pedri could come into the side though after the young midfielder made his return from injury off the bench on Thursday against Osasuna.
Xavi could opt to play an extra midfielder in this game to match Real Madrid’s midfield quartet while Joao Felix and Lamine Yamal are alternative wide options if he wants fresh legs after Ferran Torres and Raphinha started the Semi-Final.
Real Madrid are 6/5 favourites to win the game in regulation time with Barcelona priced at 15/8 while the Draw is available at 23/10.
El Clasico is one of the few big games in world football which does normally deliver on the pitch with goals usually guaranteed whenever these clubs meet. You can back Over 3.5 Goals at 7/4 while Both Teams to Score is priced at 4/7.
If you’re expecting fireworks from the off, backing Both Teams to Score in the First Half at 11/4 could be the way to go while you can back Over 1.5 First Half Total Goals at 6/4.
Robert Lewandowski leads the field in the goalscorer markets. The Barcelona frontman is 9/2 to score first and 11/8 to score anytime. You can take your pick from a number of strong Real
Madrid attacking options with Vinicius Junior 9/5 to score anytime, Rodrygo 15/8 to score anytime and Jude Bellingham available at 2/1 to score anytime.
Bet 1 - Real Madrid or Draw & Over 2.5 Goals @ 8/5
It’s just one defeat in 27 games this season now for Real Madrid which is an outstanding record and their performance levels over the past few months have generally been much higher than those of Barcelona too which makes them worthy favourites for this game.
Both sides do have areas in which they could be vulnerable though. They are both missing their first choice keepers for a start and defensively there are cracks that could be exploited so most things point to this being another pretty open Clasico and I’m backing Real Madrid or Draw and Over 2.5 Goals at 8/5.
Bet 2 - Barcelona to score over 0.5 goals & Barcelona over 3.5 corners @ 10/11
While Real Madrid do look the stronger and certainly more clinical team right now, Barcelona still have the ability to control chunks of this match with the quality of the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Ilkay Gundogan in midfield.
They managed to push Real Madrid back and create a bunch of chances whilst forcing six corners in the league Clasico earlier in the season. Up against a weaker opposing defence here, I think there’s value in backing Barcelona to score over 0.5 goals and Barcelona over 3.5 corners at 10/11.
You can check out Mark's La Liga Betting Tips along with those from the rest of the Betfred Insights Spanish Football writers on our La Liga home page...