Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Spanish Super Cup Second Leg Preview
Having already grabbed a trophy that they were anticipated to win, the UEFA Super Cup, Real Madrid enter the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup with a cushy 3-1 lead and home advantage – the second leg being played on Wednesday, August 16 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
However, the Spanish champions will be entering the second El Clasico of the season without their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been dealt a five-match ban for events that transpired in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Barcelona struggle in the first leg
As the score would indicate, Real Madrid managed to overcome Barcelona convincingly in the first leg, employing counter-attack tactics to great effect.
Their mighty midfield of Mateo Kovacic, Casemiro and Toni Kroos was built to sustain the pressure of Barcelona and then send the ball up the pitch.
Barcelona’s only goal came cheaply, with Luis Suarez blatantly diving in the Real Madrid box to win the penalty that Lionel Messi sent past Keylor Navas to tie the game at 1-1.
But it was the substitute Cristiano Ronaldo – who came on before the Barcelona goal – who would end up stealing the headlines.
In superstar fashion, Ronaldo made the most of the crafty play from Isco in midfield to unleash a counter attack.
The Portuguese forward took the ball to 18 yards from the goal, cut inside, and sniped the ball beyond the Barcelona goalie.
In celebration, Ronaldo removed his shirt and was subsequently booked.
Just a couple of minutes later, the strength of Ronaldo and defender Samuel Umtiti was put on show, as they both chased a ball bound for the Barcelona box.
Umtiti’s strength sent Ronaldo to the turf fairly, which should have seen play continue but, instead, the referee sent off the Real Madrid star for diving.
Ronaldo then shoved the referee for the poor decision – for which he is now banned for five games.
Sergio Asensio wrapped up the game near the close, skilfully beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen at his near post with a powerful and ever-rising left-footed strike.
No Ronaldo to save the day
In the first leg, Barcelona had the majority of the possession and more attempts on goal, but Real Madrid had set up to absorb that style and unleash the counter-attack.
The lack of Neymar on the left side of Barcelona’s three-pronged attack also clearly had an impact, with the Catalan giants struggling to score without the use of a dive.
Gerard Deulofeu wasn’t very effective, so they may consider switching to a two-up-top formation and pack their midfield to attempt to counter Real Madrid’s heavy-set midfielders and the creative spark of Isco.
Barcelona will continue to miss Neymar, but Real Madrid will also be without one of their stars in Cristiano Ronaldo, so Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale will be relied upon to deliver the goods.
Real Madrid don’t need to win the second leg, which is probably why they’re only 11/8 to win after such a strong performance in the first leg.
Given the controversy of the first leg, the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup is set to be a hotly contested affair.
Real Madrid may have a 3-1 lead, but Barcelona have the ability to overturn that deficit.