Real Madrid v Barcelona talking points

LaLiga champions Real Madrid will defend a 3-1 lead over Copa del Rey winners Barcelona when they meet again in the second leg of the Supercopa de Espana at the Bernabeu on Wednesday evening.

Here, we take a look at some talking points ahead of the El Clasico showdown.

How will Los Blancos shape up without Ronaldo?

While the controversy surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s five-match suspension is unlikely to calm down anytime soon, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has little option but to get on with the task at hand against Barca.

The Portugal forward was banned by the Spanish Football Federation for pushing referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea after he had been sent off during the win at the Nou Camp.

While there is no doubt he is Los Blancos’ talisman, they are anything but a one-man team. Marco Asensio impressed with his late cameo, netting what could prove to be a crucial third goal in added time, and the 21-year-old could well be given the nod from the start on Wednesday.

Busquets – Barca must be one for all and all for one

Defender Gerard Pique found himself under fire from Barcelona general manager Pep Segura following his own goal in the first leg. However, midfielder Sergio Busquets made it clear that is not the feeling in the dressing room. “We didn’t lose because of a single piece of play.

It’s not the best way to express yourself and even less so from within the club, aimed at a player,” Busquets said at the pre-match press conference.

The 29-year-old is also not about to write off Barca’s chances of producing another memorable El Clasico comeback, declaring: “We don’t give up the trophy as lost. It’s difficult but we have to keep believing as a team.”

Will Valverde find his new Neymar?

While it was always going to be a massive burden in trying to fill the vacuum left by the departure of Neymar to Paris St Germain, new Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde cannot do much else apart from look to get the best out of what is available.

Gerard Deulofeu, now back at his former club, lasted an hour in the first leg in the wide left role before he was replaced by Denis Suarez – and it remains to be seen who will be drafted in for the trip to Madrid.

It could well be a case of damage limitation for the Blaugrana, rather than being left exposed in trying to chase the tie. Brazil midfielder Paulinho has been added to the squad in a 40 million euro (£36.4m) deal from Guangzhou Evergrande, but the jury is out on whether or not that will prove enough to wrestle the LaLiga crown back to the Nou Camp.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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