Marcelo: Supercopa is far from over

Marcelo is confident that Real Madrid can still win the Supercopa when Barcelona visit the Santiago Bernabeu for the second leg.

Speaking to TVE after his side’s 3-2 Clasico defeat at Camp Nou, the Brazilian left-back was pleased with Los Blancos’ performance and believes his side have the advantage going into the return leg.

We ran all the time. We played the ball on the ground. We conceded three goals but we can count on the support of the fans to win at the Bernabeu.

It’s completely open, but we have to work and concentrate on the match because it will be very hard.”

The second leg of the Supercopa kicks off at 20:30 UTC on Wednesday.

Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid: Xavi clinches narrow first-leg triumph

Barcelona drew first blood against Real Madrid in the battle for Spanish supremacy this season, narrowly defeating their great rivals 3-2 in the first leg of their Supercopa clash at Camp Nou on Thursday.

However, a moment of madness from Victor Valdes gifted Angel Di Maria a goal with five minutes to go, leaving matters finely poised for the second leg in six days at Santiago Bernabeu.

A cagey first-half saw the home side dominate the ball, but struggle to find a way through a resilient rearguard effort from Jose Mourinho’s men. But the match changed completely in the second half, as Cristiano Ronaldo gave the visitors a shock lead in the 55th minute with a header from a corner.

Barca would hit back instantly through Pedro, before a Lionel Messi penalty and a beautifully worked goal from Xavi put them in the driving seat. Valdes’ error then provided Di Maria with the easiest of finishes.

Tito Vilanova dropped Christian Tello to the bench for Alexis Sanchez, despite the former’s impressive performance in the 5-1 win over Real Sociedad last weekend, while new signing Alex Song did not make the match day squad in time.

Mourinho, meanwhile, drafted in Raul Albiol in the centre of defence for the injured Pepe, while Karim Benzema started as the lone striker ahead of Gonzalo Higuain.

Madrid started brightly, but were not able to sustain it for long as Barca began to assert their dominance in the middle of the park, with Andres Iniesta in particular looking lively.

Messi should have found the target in the 19th minute after latching on to Dani Alves’ cutback just inside the box, but his effort flew the wrong side of the post. The Argentine would miss an even better chance 10 minutes later, poking wide from a good position after dancing around two defenders in the area.

The match seemed to be settling into a war of attrition, though Pedro almost livened things up on the half hour mark with a swerving shot that forced Casillas to save at full stretch.

The home fans were up in arms in the 38th minute, though, after a theatrical tumble from Sanchez from a challenge by Fabio Coentrao in the box went unacknowledged by the referee.

It was a hopeful shout at best, and the game began to get scrappy as the first half ended. First, Arbeloa was shown yellow for flattening Busquets, before Javier Mascherano joined him in the book after chopping down Coentrao.

Busquets was not having an easy time in the middle of the park, and was felled again by Albiol shortly after the restart, for which the Madrid defender also saw yellow.

The Barcelona midfielder would then make a fatal error in the 55th minute, as he lost sight of Ronaldo defending a corner, allowing the Portuguese to nod the visitors into a surprise lead.

Madrid’s joy lasted only seconds though, as straight from kick-off, Barca drew level.

Mascherano’s searching ball from his own half picked out Pedro on the left, who accelerated away from Coentrao to slot the hosts back on terms, despite calls from the visitors for offside.

The shackles were finally off, as Barca looked to press ahead. Alves was picked out by Messi on the overlap, only for Casillas to tip his low shot around the post.

Then, with 68 minutes gone, a clumsy tackle by Sergio Ramos brought down Iniesta in the area, giving referee Gomez no choice but to point to the spot. Messi stepped up to send Casillas the wrong way and put Barcelona back in front.

Xavi appeared to put matters beyond any doubt 10 minutes later after slotting home from a superb setup from Iniesta, who ghosted past multiple challenges before putting the chance on a plate for his midfield colleague.

However, in the 85th minute, a howler from Valdes dragged Madrid back into the game and the tie.

The Barcelona keeper appeared to be under little pressure when collecting a backpass, but saw the ball stick under his feet, allowing Di Maria enough time to steal in and poke into the back of the net, giving the visitors a lifeline for the second-leg.

BREAKING NEWS: Rodgers hopeful of Liverpool deal for Sahin

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed that a loan move for Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin is close to completion.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed his interest in bringing the former Borussia Dortmund man to north London last week and it had been reported that Sahin preferred a move to a Champions League club.

However, following his side’s 1-0 victory over Hearts on Thursday, Rodgers seemingly admitted that the Reds have trumped their Premier League rivals to his signature.

“Hopefully in the next 24 hours we’ll get some confirmation on that,” Rodgers told the club’s official website.

“It’s quite far [along the line]. He’s a very good footballer.”

The Turkish midfielder struggled to break into Jose Mourinho’s first-team plans last season, making just four league appearances in his first campaign in La Liga.

The Spanish side moved to secure his services following his contribution to Borussia Dortmund’s victorious 2010-11 Bundesliga campaign.

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.