Stuttering Real seeking Super Cup fillip
A Spanish Super Cup comeback against arch rivals Barcelona and the arrival of Croatia playmaker Luka Modric may provide the perfect springboard for Real Madrid to kickstart their season.
Jose Mourinho’s stuttering side, still seeking a first league win of the season, need to overturn a 3-2 deficit from last week’s first leg when they host Barca at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Sunday’s shock 2-1 reverse at city neighbours Getafe came after a 1-1 home draw with Valencia in their opening La Liga game.
An angry Mourinho did not mince his words in the post-match news conference, calling it a “horrible” game against Getafe.
Real deserved to lose and their performance was unacceptable, the Portuguese said, adding he was particularly concerned by the two goals conceded against Valencia and Getafe from dead-ball situations.
“We tried to do our best but we agree with the coach that it wasn’t a good performance,” said captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
“It’s a game to forget and we have to focus on the next. Now it’s the Super Cup and we’ll have the perfect chance to pick ourselves up and forget these three matches.”
Real announced on Monday they had agreed to sign Modric from Tottenham Hotspur on a five-year contract and the 26-year-old Croatian’s creativity and guile are what Mourinho’s side have been missing this term.
Modric turned in an excellent performance for Croatia against Spain in a 1-0 group-phase defeat at Euro 2012 and could be up against Barca’s Spanish internationals including Xavi, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets if he makes his debut on Wednesday.
Barca are riding high at the top of La Liga having won their opening two matches, in large part thanks to the genius of World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.
The Argentina forward has scored five times in three games in all competitions including a penalty in the Super Cup first leg and both goals in Sunday’s 2-1 comeback win at Osasuna, his best start to a season.
The 25-year-old has netted 31 times in Barca’s last 17 league outings stretching back to last season and is only 17 short of the club’s league scoring record of 190 held by Cesar Rodriguez.
“The season could not have started better...the team seems in very good shape,” said Pique.
Barca coach Tito Vilanova has a question mark over captain and centre back Carles Puyol after he fractured his cheekbone in the Osasuna game.
New signing Alex Song may be handed his debut after the Cameroon midfielder joined from Arsenal last week.
Real are waiting on the fitness of Portugal defender Pepe who has not played since sustaining a head injury against Valencia.