Let’s just focus on a proper game of football with a result that will actually mean something. It’s a welcome relief after the tedium of the groundhog day of transfer gossip surrounding Real Madrid and the embarrassing electoral circuses in which Spain’s two biggest clubs are currently mired.
The Spanish Supercup is Spain’s equivalent to the English Community shield that pits the league champions, Barcelona, against the winners of the Copa del Rey, Espanyol.
It is a contest that, had it been played at the end of last season, would have had only one possible outcome; a clear victory for Barcelona.
However, the fist leg tonight should be a slightly more difficult contest to predict. Ernesto Valverde makes his home debut as new Espanyol coach and is hoping that he can get the team off to a winning start in what he has already termed “Espanyol’s best chance of winning anything this season”
Valverde’s ambitions for the season will remain limited and anything other than relegation could be considered a success after the team narrowly avoided demotion last season with a goal in injury time of the final match.
Espanyol will be grateful that Luis Garcia is still at the club and that his partnership with Tamudo remains intact. The strike pair formed an excellent pairing in front of goal and the fans will be optimistic that new signing Rufete will provide some quality service. It will also be interesting to see how the defence copes without Lopo who joined Deportivo in the summer.
Barcelona are seeking motivation for tonight’s game by identifying this season as the one in which they can win six trophies. The question is, however, are they physically prepared for it and has the tour of the USA taken its toll? Ronaldinho should need little motivation as he should be looking to silence the critics after a disappointing world cup with Brazil.
Espanyol will seek solace in the fact the Barcelona defence is likely to resemble that which conceded four goals in one game on the pre-season tour as the game has come a little too soon for new signings Zambrotta and Thuram. Espanyol fans will, nevertheless, be dismayed that they have missed out on the opportunity to taunt Zambrotta over the incident in which an Espanyol supporting taxi driver left the Italian stranded at the airport. The taxi driver who refused Zambrotta entry to his cab because the Italian plays for Barça is now something of a cult hero amongst Espanyol fans and it is rumoured that he is guest of honour at the Lluis Companys stadium tonight.
Meanwhile the Madrid papers continue to get very hot under the collar over Xavi and Puyol’s inclusion in the squad after they were withdrawn from Spain’s midweek international squad because of injury.
As it’s the first game of the season there is the potential for a surprise, but over the two legs, a win for Barcelona looks likely.