Barça and Girona gear up for annual Catalan Super Cup in Sabadell
The two highest-placed teams from Catalonia in last season’s La Liga contest the increasingly competitive trophy on Wednesday
It is billed as a celebration of Catalan football. Coming after a week in which both clubs clinched crucial wins against Madrid sides, including in El Clásico, it could not have been better timed.
Toasts will be in order – not only for Barcelona, who beat Real Madrid twice in four days to overtake their great rivals in the all-time victories tally, but also Girona, who defeated Rayo Vallecano and are making their debut in the competition, having appeared in the Spanish top flight for the first time in their history last season.
In a significant breakthrough, marking a new era in the Catalan game, this will be the fourth edition of the Catalan Super Cup (staged each year since 2014, with the exception of 2015) but the first not to feature the Barça-Espanyol duopoly.
While this is a major coup for the Gironistes, currently 14th in La Liga, Ernesto Valverde’s side are, of course, the overwhelming favourites. Even with the likes of Lionel Messi rested for the encounter, a possible forward line of Philippe Coutinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Malcolm would add serious star quality to the occasion.
The Blaugrana are two-time, defending champions, although there is some precedent for upsets, after Espanyol managed to edge past Luis Enrique’s weakened line-up two years ago.
Level playing field
Known to natives as the Supercopa de Catalunya, the one-night-only event evolved out of the Catalonia Cup (or Copa Catalunya), which used to incorporate the biggest teams but is now separate in order to create a level playing field for the dozens of amateur clubs involved.
The showpiece takes place on Wednesday at the 12,000-seater Nova Creu Alta stadium – 25km outside of Barcelona in Sabadell, which notably hosted several group games in the 1992 Olympic football competition – with kick-off at 6.45pm.