Cristiano Ronaldo looked asleep during Real Madrid's first La Liga match of 2012, and his last real action before that was an inconsistent Euro Cup appearance. Nothing like an El Clasico to cure his struggles.
Luckily for CR7, the greatest rivalry in the world, one in which he has become accustomed to thriving in, has really amplified over the past few years. During the 2010-11 season, Barcelona and Real faced off five times. In '11-12, six times.
With Thursday's first leg of the Super Cup, the highly anticipated battle gets under way, marking the real start to the season. While these clubs are likely sick of each other—and Lionel Messi and Ronaldo are seemingly nauseous of being compared to each other—fans of the game can't get enough.
With that being said, let's take a look at what to expect during this famous battle.
"Maquina" hasn't always dominated this matchup, but in 2011-12, he was nearly unstoppable. He scored in four of the six matches as he continued to prove he had Barcelona's back four figured out.
Expect him to continue that trend for the La Liga champs in this one.
If he wasn't coming off such a stinker during Madrid's draw against Valencia, I might be willing to predict a brace. He's just so deadly in big-time matches. Epic performances on the biggest stages have almost become the norm, but nonetheless, I'm staying conservative.
But It's Not Enough
During last year's Clasicos, Madrid was actually better at Camp Nou than it was at the Bernabeu.
In three matches at Barcelona's stadium, Real went 1-1-1, with the goals being tied at six. At home, it went just 0-1-2, losing the goal battle 4-7.
Combine that with the fact that Ronaldo should bounce back and Real is coming off the coveted La Liga championship, and the odds may be slowly moving away from Barcelona's favor.
Not so fast.
Pepe's absence is going to hurt Real's back line, leaving plenty of opportunities for Barcelona's talented attack. I'm going 2-1 Barca, but Real will make things interesting when the second leg returns to the Bernabeu.