It was Barcelona who won the first El Clasico of the season as they recorded a 3-2 win in the Super Cup first leg at Camp Nou, but the goal Angel Di Maria scored in the dying moments of the match can give los Blancos reason for optimism before the return leg.
It’s been a while since Real Madrid last failed to win any of their first three games, and during pre-season nothing could suggest such a scenario.
If we disregard the 5-2 defeat to Benfica, los Blancos were pretty convincing in all other pre-season friendlies and they were certainly expected to start the league campaign with a bang.
However, Real Madrid could only muster a goalless draw against Valencia in the season opener, while they had to settle for a 3-2 defeat to Barcelona in the Super Cup first leg despite taking the lead through Cristiano Ronaldo.
To make matters worse, los Merengues were beaten by Getafe at the weekend, so they clearly face a mountain to climb in the Super Cup return leg.
New signing Luka Modric could be in contention, while Pepe is set to start after recovering from a concussion.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Casillas – Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao – Alonso, Khedira – Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo – Higuain.
Unlike their fierce rivals, Barcelona have enjoyed a bright start to the season, and their five-point advantage over Real in La Liga is likely to put an extra pressure on their opponents.
The Catalans needed some time to hit the ground running in the Super Cup first leg and they even allowed Real to take the lead, but three quick second-half goalsproved enough for the win.
Victor Valdes’ mistake gave los Blancos a lifeline before the match at Santiago Bernabeu..
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol could be in contention for this high-profile match despite fracturing his cheekbone at the weekend, while David Villa will probably have to wait for his chance on the bench.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Valdes – Dabi Alves, Pique, Puyol, Jordi Alba – Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta – Pedro, Messi, Sanchez.