Barcelona was able to gain an advantage in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup with a 3-2 victory at Camp Nou last week. Now Real Madrid returns home with hopes of pulling off a comeback in the second leg on Wednesday.
As always when the two Spanish superpowers face off, there will be plenty of star power on the pitch for the latest chapter in the El Clasico rivalry. Let's take a look at the players who will have the biggest impact on the match's outcome.
Messi has been his usual dominant self since the new season began with five goals in three games, including one in the first leg of the Super Cup. The most amazing thing is that type of production is basically considered normal for him now.
Barcelona will want to strike first in the second leg to amplify the amount of pressure on Real Madrid's shoulders. That means the talented midfield led by Andres Iniesta will be looking to send through balls to Messi early and often.
On the flip side, if Real Madrid can figure out a way to keep him under control, their chances of winning the trophy will increase dramatically.
Like Messi, Ronaldo scored in the first game, which actually gave Madrid a brief lead before Pedro was able to level it moments later. Unlike his goal-scoring rival, it's the only goal Ronaldo has tallied since the La Liga season began with none in two league fixtures.
Even though Madrid has Karim Benzema up front and a plethora of playmakers in the midfield, the attack simply isn't as dangerous when Ronaldo is having trouble generating chances. He's truly the engine that makes the offense run.
He's most effective when he gets involved early, so look for his teammates to get him a lot of touches early to make him feel involved before shifting to a more balanced approach.
Although the two offenses always dominate the headlines leading up to El Clasico matches, it's often the goalkeepers who hold the key to victory. Madrid's Casillas and his counterpart Victor Valdes are put in a tough position with all that talent coming at them, as evidenced by the 3-2 scoreline from leg one.
That said, it also gives them a great chance to steal a game if they are in top form. Casillas made three saves in the first game, but it wasn't enough because Barcelona dominated possession and had a lot more chances than Los Blancos.
Expect an even better performance from Casillas on Wednesday. If he can get some help from Ronaldo and Co. up front, Madrid will still have a good chance to win the Super Cup.
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