TEAM NEWS: Alexis starts in attack for Barcelona in Supercopa clash against Real Madrid

Alexis Sanchez - Barcelona

Alexis Sanchez – Barcelona

Barcelona welcome Alexis Sanchez back into the starting lineup for tonight’s Supercopa first-leg encounter with Real Madrid at Camp Nou.

 

Taking charge of his first Clasico, new Barca coach Tito Vilanova has made just four change from the side which triumphed 5-1 over Real Sociedad on Sunday night. Having started on the bench in that game, Sanchez now replaces Cristian Tello, who takes his place alongside David Villa, who made a scoring return from injury at the weekend. New signing Alex Song does not make the match squad, so will not make his Barcelona debut tonight.

After dropping points at home to Valencia in their opening match of the season, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has made four changes to his starting lineup tonight. The injured Pepe is replaced by Raul Albiol at centre-back, while Sami Khedira and Jose Callejon come in for Lassana Diarra and Angel Di Maria. Gonzalo Higuain is dropped in attack of France international Karim Benzema.

BARCELONA LINEUP: (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Alexis

Bench: Pinto, Puyol, Alba, Roberto, Tello, Fabregas, Villa

REAL MADRID LINEUP: (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Albiol, Ramos, Coentrao; Khedira, Alonso; Callejon, Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema

Kaka, Sahin & Carvalho omitted from Real Madrid squad to face Barcelona in Supercopa

Kaka was among the notable Real Madrid absentees as coach Jose Mourinho named his 21-man squad for the Supercopa first-leg clash against Barcelona on Thursday.

The Brazilian playmaker has been linked with a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, with Manchester United and AC Milan rumoured as possible destinations, and he now misses out on the match while his future remains up in the air.

Also left out of Mourinho’s team was midfielder Nuri Sahin, who is reportedly on the verge of agreeing a loan with Arsenal for the 2012-13 campaign.

There was also no place for Ricardo Carvalho. The veteran defender is rumoured to be close to joining Queens Park Rangers on a season-long loan.

Elsewhere, Portugal international Pepe also misses out after suffering a concussion in the Blancos’ 1-1 draw with Valencia on Sunday.

However, there are inclusions for 22-year-old defender Nacho and teenage striker Alvaro Morata. Both youngsters featured during Madrid’s pre-season tour of the United States.

The first leg of the Supercopa will take place at Camp Nou on Thursday, with the return fixture to be played six days later at Santiago Bernabeu.

Disallowed Soldado goal against Real Madrid should have stood, says Pereira

Valencia defender Joao Pereira has questioned the decision to disallow team-mate Roberto Soldado’s goal during his side’s 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the opening round of La Liga on Sunday.

The striker looked to have scored after rounding Iker Casillas early in the second half. However, referee Carlos Delgado Ferreiro? controversially chalked off the effort after an offside call by one of his assistants, denying Los Che the opportunity of taking a 2-1 lead at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Pereira, who played in the match, still has his reservations about the officials’ ruling, revealing that reaction in his native Portugal is that the goal should have stood.

“They sent me messages from Portugal, and even there they say the goal was legal,” the 28-year-old told Sport.

“But there is nothing we can do. The time has passed.”

Valencia’s next league match is against Deportivo at Mestalla on Sunday, before a trip to Camp Nou to face Barcelona a week later.

Poll of the Day: Is Sahin the right signing for Arsenal?

POLL

Arsenal have been busy in the transfer market this summer and following the recent departures of Robin van Persie and Alex Song, there may well still be more activity to come at the Emirates.

Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin has long been linked with a loan move to the north London outfit, although the deal is currently on hold as Arsene Wenger deliberates over whether to push for a permanent move for the 23-year-old.

But, is Sahin the right man for Arsenal? Can he make up for the loss of Song, or should the Gunners turn their attentions elsewhere, and if so to who?

The Turkey international has failed to impress at the Bernabeu, might it be the same story at the Emirates? In fact, do Arsenal even need Sahin?

HAVE YOUR SAY

So, do you think Sahin is right for Arsenal? If not, why not? Can he make up for the loss of Song, or would Arsenal be better off signing someone else?

Let us know your thoughts by voting in the poll, leaving a comment below, or getting in touch through Facebook and Twitter.

Arsenal Sahin switch on hold as Wenger considers option of permanent deal

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Nuri Sahin’s move to Arsenal from Real Madrid is being held up following a change of heart from Arsene Wenger.

The Premier League club had reached a breakthrough in their pursuit of the Turkey international by agreeing a season-long loan for the midfielder, including the loan fee and the player’s wages.

But the deal has stagnated for the second time this week as Wenger deliberates over whether to push for a permanent transfer.

This has prompted reports in Spain that Sahin’s agent Reza Fazeli has met with senior Liverpool officials in an attempt to revive the possibility of a loan move to Anfield.

It is understood that Liverpool withdrew their interest in signing the former Borussia Dortmund player last Saturday after learning that he wanted to join Arsenal.

However, the London club deny that they had planned a photo shoot on Monday ahead of his unveiling, which then had to be cancelled at the last minute.

Arsenal are confident they are still in the driving seat to capture the 23-year-old, who has been identified by Wenger as a versatile midfielder capable of adapting to his team’s playing style.

Sahin’s destination is also understood to have been a discussion point in the Luka Modric talks between Real and Tottenham amid rumours that Spurs would prefer the player not to join their north London rivals.

It is uncertain whether Real are willing to sanction the permanent sale of Sahin even though Jose Mourinho has made it clear that the player will benefit from a season in the Premier League.

Sahin would strengthen the midfield options of Wenger, who sanctioned the sale of Alex Song to Barcelona for £15 million on Monday and is also likely to be without Jack Wilshere for the first three months of the season through injury.

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