In the heat of Saudi Arabia, the rejigged Spanish Super Cup continues with Barcelona facing Atlético Madrid.
The RFEF have expanded the tournament from a two-legged curtain raiser between the previous season’s league and cup winners to a mid-season single-leg tournament with four teams – the winners and runners-up of both La Liga and the Copa del Rey – to be held in Saudi Arabia for reasons which make precious little sense.
Barça have already faced Atleti once this season, a tight and tense affair settled late on by a bit of Leo Messi magic. Now, though, there is the chance of a final on the line. The Blaugrana come into this tournament as defending Supercopa champions, whilst Diego Simeone’s men were last seen here in 2014 when they beat Real Madrid to win it.
Read on for our Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid preview, predictions, team news and TV coverage information.
When is Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid and where can I watch live?
Competition: Spanish Super Cup
Venue: King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Date: Thursday, 9 January 2020
Kick-off: 7:00 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): N/A
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Last five meetings: Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
01 December 2019: Atlético Madrid 0-1 Barcelona (La Liga)
06 April 2019: Barcelona 2-0 Atlético Madrid(La Liga)
24 November 2018: Atlético Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (La Liga)
04 March 2018: Barcelona 1-0 Atlético Madrid (La Liga)
14 October 2017: Atlético Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (La Liga)
Aggregate Score: Barcelona (WWDWD) 6-2 Atlético Madrid (LLDLD)
Ones to watch
Barcelona: Leo Messi
The best player in the world has been out-of-sorts in the last few games for Barcelona, not quite looking as sharp as he was before.
A semi-final against a major rival should be exactly what he needs to get the blood flowing. Given how much Barcelona rely on Messi to structure their attack, he will need to be in fantastic form if they are to win.
Key stat: Leo Messi has scored more goals (13), created more big chances (16) and completed more take-ons (77) than any other player in La Liga this season.
Atlético Madrid: Alvaro Morata
The former Chelsea striker has been Atleti’s most reliable goalscorer in attack, and the one weakness Simeone’s men have always shown against Barcelona is an inability to score.
Morata has done that before and is something of a cup specialist, too. He scored against Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League back in 2015, putting one past Barça in the final too.
The Spaniard has two goals in his last three games and Los Colchoneros will need him to be at his clinical best if they are to progress.
Key stat: Alvaro Morata has scored more than twice as many goals in La Liga (7) than any of his Atleti team-mates.
Barça are without goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen who is trying to let a persistent knee problem heal itself. They are also without Arthur and Ousmane Dembélé, neither of whom are fit to travel. Beyond that they are healthy and take a large squad complete with academy stars like Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Ronald Araujo to Saudi as they hope to retain their crown.
Predicted XI: Neto; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, De Jong; Messi, Griezmann, Suárez.
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Diego Simeone’s men welcome back Stefan Savic to the squad and have even taken summer signing Ivan Saponjic despite him yet to appear since joining in July. Could the young Serb make the difference? He may have to as Diego Costa hasn’t travelled and neither has the lacklustre Thomas Lemar. Speculation links Lemar with a move away in January and his absence here will only fuel that.
Predicted XI: Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Giménez, Lodi; Thomas, Herrera, Koke, Saul; Joao Felix, Morata.
Games between these two sides are usually tight and tense affairs punctuated by rare moments of genius (usually from Messi). Expect this to be no different as Simeone’s men put the clamps on a Barcelona that is already made anaemic by Ernesto Valverde.
The Spaniard won’t do anything interesting or risky to try and procure victory, instead relying on his star men to pull the side to the win by themselves. The thing is given the form of Luis Suárez and the overwhelming quality of Griezmann and Messi, they probably will do just that.