Andy Brassell on European Football: Real Madrid and Barcelona aim for a super later face-off
The Supercopa de España is afair this week while Mauricio Pochettino eyes some silverware of his own, writes Andy Brassell
"Athletic coach Marcelino, meanwhile, might obtain been one of the few out there to be grateful for the weather disruption."
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Supercopa not the antidote for tired La Liga legs
The layout for the expansion of the Supercopa was, the Spanish FA thought, a masterstroke. The competition would be expanded from two to four and outsourced to Saudi Arabia. Ok, only a tiny quantity of fans from Spain would procure to see it in the flesh but the lucrative three-year agreement made it worth it for the authorities.
Few could hold predicted the fashionable plight but it has meant the Supercopa staying home, with the Andalucian cities of Córdoba, Málaga and Sevilla hosting this years edition. With Barcelona and Real Madrid deliberately kept apart in the semi-final sketch (really), the old commit exterior Real Sociedad and the closing Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday and Thursday respectively before a Sunday final. Zinedine Zidanes team, one suspects, bequeath not be thrilled about the timing, having strongly believed that the weekends goalless originate at Osasuna ought not hold lost ahead, given the difficulties stilted by Storm Filomena.
Athletic coach Marcelino, meanwhile, might hold been one of the few out there to be relieved for the weather disruption. Rather than facing a laborious in the afternoon at Atlético Madrid, Athletics new coach has had a few days to task with his players and obtain some of his ideas across, which is a secondary miracle in the fashionable situation. Time is explanation to the team absorbing his ideas and having strained El Real on their past visit to Madrid, they can make it onerous for them again.
While last years Supercopa was the top ever staged exterior of Spain, Ligue 1s players and clubs are far supplementary used to travelling abroad for their equivalent. Yet they too cede be staying at home as Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille hook horns in Le Classique at Lens, on Wednesday, for the Trophée des Champions.
It represents an halfway immediate opportunity for Mauricio Pochettino to win his prime trophy as coach in Paris, and he has already pledged to meadow "the strongest team possible", despite the ever-present concerns over scheduling. That manner something with Neymar back in the side for the finest case since December, with PSG having been thumping cautious with his fitness ahead of the Champions League last 16, and explanation defender Presnel Kimpembe moreover returning.
Marseille, who posses stuttered either feature of Christmas with only one win in five matches, entrust retain their activity cut out, even nevertheless they removed their cerebral obstruct in this fixture by winning at the Parc des Princes in September, their prime victory over their fierce enemies in partly nine years. Their currently disjointed stagecraft - save the excellent foregone win over Montpellier - is not a deal-breaker in terms of acceptance a result but OM leave own to guard a great deal mend than they keep of behindhand to push PSG.
It was always a pump of finding the fit. Its what Sébastien Haller had at Eintracht Frankfurt, with entire complementarity among him, Luka Jović and Ante Rebić. At West Ham where - until the David Moyes-inspired cohesion of this season - accomplished players hold often drifted, without a proper format for their integration and use, Haller often looked like a fish out of water.
The early signs of the Ivorian strikers stun manage to Ajax are promising. Haller was a half-time substitute in Sundays mammoth game with PSV and he made a vast results - having the ring in the entangle in his top five minutes (though it was eventually disallowed for a narrow offside), setting up Antonys equaliser and almost creating a winning goal.
There is rarely query that a striker of Hallers knack cede find goals easier to come back in the Eredivisie but there is the sense that he cede link well into the duo cloth too, finding players around him on his wavelength that bequeath do the most of his practical gifts, not licit his physical ones. Erik Ten Hag could hand him his prime inspire on Thursday at Twente, where Haller cede hope to play he is the comrade to consign Ajax the edge in a intimate word race.
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