Ronald Koeman has named a strong Barcelona squad for Wednesday’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final match against Real Sociedad in Andalusia.
The Dutch coach has called up 21 players for the clash with only senior stars Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, and Gerard Pique missing because of injury.
Center-back defender Ronald Araujo is included despite concerns over his fitness. The Uruguay international picked up a hamstring problem in the warm-up against Granada and was forced to miss Saturday’s 4-0 win. Fellow defender Clement Lenglet also returns after serving a one-match ban.
The only real surprise is the inclusion of 17-year-old midfielder Ilaix Moriba. The youngster was called into the first-team squad for the first time in his career against Granada and keeps his place.
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Clasico Final Looming?
The winners of Wednesday’s match go on to play in the final of the competition on Sunday against either Real Madrid or Athletic, meaning a second Clasico of the season is possible.
Barca beat Real Sociedad 2-1 at the Camp Nou in La Liga just under a month ago. Willian Jose put the visitors ahead but Barca hit back through goals from Frenkie de Jong and Jordi Alba to take all three points.
Real Madrid and Athletic also met in December. Los Blancos won 3-1 at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium in a game which saw Athletic’s Raul Garcia handed a red card after just 13 minutes.
If the two giants of Spanish football do meet in Sunday’s final then it will offer Barca the chance for some revenge. The Catalan giants were beaten 3-1 by their fierce rivals at home in the first Clasico of 2020-21 in October.
Barca Form Improving
Barcelona will certainly head into the tournament with plenty of confidence after going on a good run. Saturday’s 4-0 win over Granada made it eight games unbeaten in La Liga and saw the team cut the gap to Real Madrid in second place to just three points.
Koeman’s side are also now four points off leaders Atletico, who have three games in hand, but the Dutch coach was optimistic about his team’s chances of winning silverware this season, as reported by Marca.
[Winning titles] doesn’t depend on just one player. It depends on the mentality of the team. If everyone is well and in their best form, they can fight [for titles]. With the gap to the leaders, it’ll be difficult, but this week we have played well which gives me confidence. We are calmer. And are concentrating more. But we have to be humble and keep working.
There’s no doubt the Spanish Super Cup is not high on Barcelona’s list of priorities this season, but if they were to lift the trophy it would provide Koeman with his first silverware since taking over as boss and help boost confidence.
Barca were beaten by Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of this competition last season, a defeat that proved to be former boss Ernesto Valverde’s last game in charge. The Catalan giants last lifted the trophy in 2018 under Valverde.