Activate discovery+Sep 23
The first of two Spanish Super Cup semi-finals live on BT Sport takes place on Wednesday night, as Real Madrid take on Valencia in Riyadh.
Los Blancos are looking for a response after they were beaten 2-1 by Villarreal in their last La Liga outing, with coverage underway from 6.45pm on BT Sport 1.
Valencia, meanwhile, head into this game on the back of two league defeats and sit 11th in La Liga.
Real Madrid are the clear favourites, then, particularly given their record in the competition (12-time winners). But Valencia, who reached the Copa del Rey final last season, will hope to produce a shock result.
Real Madrid stuttering after World Cup break
Carlo Ancelotti’s side had some questionable results before domestic football stopped in November for the World Cup.
Defeat to RB Leipzig in the Champions League, a home draw against Girona and a 3-2 loss at Rayo Vallecano meant the break was welcomed in the Spanish capital.
But that inconsistency has continued in the weeks since the return of club football.
It took two late goals from Karim Benzema for Real Madrid to beat Valladolid, and that was followed by defeat at Villarreal.
It’s hardly time to panic for Los Blancos given they’re three points off top and still in contention to win every cup competition. But their unconvincing performances will be a concern for Ancelotti.
Double injury blow for Los Blancos
Real Madrid will be without both David Alaba and Aurelien Tchouameni after they picked up injuries following the Villarreal game.
That’s a blow for the Spanish champions, although squad depth is certainly not an issue for Ancelotti.
Fede Valverde is likely to drop into central midfield and Rodrygo could start alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior in the front three.
In Alaba’s absence, Eder Militao is expected to move across to centre-back, while Dani Carvajal could return at right-back.
Gattuso yet to get Valencia firing
Valencia will be aiming to take advantage of any vulnerabilities in a Real Madrid side not at their best.
But Los Che are struggling themselves and are the clear outsiders in the Spanish Super Cup.
Gennaro Gattuso’s appointment in the summer seemed an exciting one after the Italian’s stint with Napoli. But he has yet to find a winning formula at Valencia, who are only four points off the bottom three in La Liga.
Success in the Super Cup could be the catalyst for a better second half of the season, and it will be a test of Gattuso’s ability to compete tactically with his former manager Ancelotti in a knockout competition.
But the Valencia boss has a lot of work to do to get his side to the required level.