It’s the year of the illustrious curtain-raiser throughout Europe. England opened with a Manchester derby and Italy with a Milan one, but Spain are about to trump the lot on Sunday with Real Madrid and Barcelona contesting the Supercopa de Espana…
Real Madrid are 5/4 favourites to win the first leg at home and in doing so defeat Barcelona in 90 minutes for the first time in ten attempts since Pep Guardiola succeeded Frank Rijkaard as coach three years ago.
The capital club, who are 13/8 second favourites to top La Liga this season behind their rivals, who are hugely fancied at 4/9 to secure a fourth straight title, have been hugely impressive in pre-season, triumphing in all seven games and scoring 27 times.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in particular have been very impressive, with one of the least high-profile of their summer signings, former academy product Jose Maria Callejon, also enjoying a significant impact in their friendly fixtures.
Barcelona haven’t had as productive a time, only adding Alexis Sanchez to their squad and suffering losses to Manchester United and Guadalajara and drawing with Hajduk Split and Internacional, and as a result are 7/4 to win at the Bernabeu.
Given Real Madrid’s scoring spree and the tendency for a more attacking approach to be taken in this competition –the home and away legs all featuring three or more goals in each of the last three years – over 2.5 goals appeals at 5/6.
Benzema has struck eight times in friendly action so, assuming that he is selected to start by boss Jose Mourinho, who he hasn’t always enjoyed a great relationship with, his odds of 13/2 to strike first appear very attractive.