Tonight at 8pm local time, live from Saudi Arabia, our hunt for our first piece of silverware begins. It’s the semi finals of the Spanish SuperCup and we are up against Real Betis. It will be our first meeting with them this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how they set up. They will be without their number 1 left back, Alex Moreno, as he seals his departure away from Betis to Aston Villa. Yet another quality player leaving La Liga for the Premier League. In recent years, the Spanish SuperCup has been remodelled into a 4 team tournament. Whereas beforehand, it was always a one off game. Usually at the start of the season, between the previous season’s league winners and the Copa Del Rey winners.
To be honest, setting it midway through the season in Saudi Arabia really isn’t a popular idea. I don’t generally agree with it being moved out there, but of course La Liga are always looking at ways of giving the league more exposure. And at the end of the day, its a trophy up for gabs and we need to do everything we can in order to take it back home with us. It would be so important for morale and the project. This team needs to know how it feels like to win. And we’ll be hoping we can experience that very soon.
A quick look at our opponents:
When it comes to Real Betis, there’s nothing much bad you can about them. For me, they’re one of my favourite teams to watch in the league and games between us two always deliver in goals and quality. You should remember our very last game against them. It was one of our very last games in the 2021/22 season. And it was also the game where Jordi Alba’s last minute volley guaranteed Champions League football for the upcoming season. When it comes to league form, like usual, Real Betis are doing very well.
They currently find themselves in 4th place, 13 points behind us. They’ve conceded over double the amount of goals we have, but have also scored a very respectable 19 league goals. They also won their last game before the SuperCup, just like we did. It came in a 2-1 win away at Rayo Vallecano. That in itself is an impressive result. Tonight we can expect goals, but we’ll be hoping to put in a convincing performance. We showed some really good things against Atleti, but we need to work on consistency. Not dropping the level after we score, and just keeping the level up. We’re going to have a full squad to choose from going into the game. And I can only expect us to go strong.
Good news for us coming into this game, is that Lewandowski will be available for it. His suspension doesn’t apply for the SuperCup, so he will 100% be leading the line. It’s important we keep him match sharp as he still has 2 more league games out. The defence, should remain the same from how it was against Atleti. Although I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Kounde or Balde getting a rest from the start. We need to go strong, but always have to keep in mind fatigue.
However in an ideal world, the defence of Araujo, Kounde, Christensen and Balde should remain the same. It’s an incredibly strong back four. Busquets has to be rested in midfield. Although he had a pretty solid game against Atleti, he played 120 minutes against Intercity and almost the full 90 against Atleti. So the midfield should be Frenkie, Pedri and Gavi. Allowing Frenkie to play in the lone pivot position.
In attack, again I’d keep things relatively the same as against Atleti. Ferran unfortunately is suspended for 2 league games. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start tonight. Just to make sure he keeps up to match fitness. Similar to the situation with Lewandowski. Although i would opt to go for Ansu. He needs to keep getting game time. And most importantly, he needs to start scoring. He sadly missed a lot of football due to his injuries, so its all about getting him back up to speed. Building his confidence up too. Because when we eventually get him back to where he was pre injury. And there’s no doubt in my mind that we can get back there. Then Ansu will be unstoppable! The only question for me really is who plays at right wing. Dembele or Raphinha?
Kounde- Araujo- Christensen- Balde
Pedri- Frenkie- Gavi
Raphinha- Lewandowski- Ansu