The first leg of the Spanish Supercup was everything that El Clasico has failed to be in recent years. 2011's four-game Clasico series got a big old and tired by the end - especially with the incessant berating of the officials - but the first leg of the 2011 Supercup was a different kind of game. Real Madrid and Barcelona competed, but they were much less...let's say unsporting...than usual, playing what was mostly a fair match. Both teams scored a couple of great goals in an entertaining match, setting up a potentially fantastic second leg at the Camp Nou.
Thanks to their draw at the Santiago Bernabeu, Barcelona will be considered slight favorites in the return leg in Catalonia. Neither Xavi Hernandez or Gerard Pique started that match and both are expected to be in the starting lineup on Wednesday. Pedro Rodriguez sat on the bench as Alexis Sanchez started, and the Chilean star played well, confirming what we all knew when Sanchez was purchased: Pep Guardiola has a serious selection dilemma on his hands.
Cesc Fabregas will probably not be on Guardiola's bench on Wednesday evening, but that won't stop the Cules from speculating about when he'll make his debut, if he'll be in the starting lineup in big matches, and how he'll be utilized. For now, expect Xavi and Andres Iniesta to start while Thiago Alcantara is the main backup on the bench.
Barcelona's tactics are unlikely to undergo massive changes, save for a couple of slight improvements in personnel that are, with the exception of talent and experience, like for like changes. Madrid could possibly make major adjustments, though, as the team Jose Mourinho played on Sunday didn't look quite like a lot of the teams he played in preseason. On their North American tour, Madrid had a place for new signing Fabio Coentrao, who proved that he can not only play left back and left midfield, but next to Xabi Alonso in a double pivot.
That spot next to Xabi's is on lock for big games, as Sami Khedira is held in high regard by Mourinho. And why not? He's a criminally underrated player. The other two slots that Coentrao can occupy are slightly less set in stone, though, and both Marcelo and Angel di Maria are probably fearing for their places at the moment. Coentrao came in as a substitute for di Maria on Sunday and many feel he's poised to take away the Argentinian's starting place.
Both teams will have mostly full squads to play on Wednesday evening, and both teams will come into the match feeling like they have a fantastic chance to lift the trophy. Kickoff is at 5 pm ET, 11 pm local time (isn't Spain the greatest?!?), and unfortunately for you, the game is not available on American television. However, we will have extensive coverage right here at SB Nation.