For the first time since its inception in 1982, the Spanish Super Cup features a four-team format. In addition to the La Liga champion and Copa del Rey winner — who previously squared off in a single match — this year's competition included a semifinal round with La Liga's second- and third-place finishers from the previous season. These teams are Atlético and Real Madrid, which will meet on Sunday for the Super Cup final, after Barcelona and Valencia both lost in the semis.
And in another "first," the cup-deciding match will not be played in Spain, but rather in Saudi Arabia — for the very simple reason that the Saudis paid the equivalent of about $132 million for the privilege of hosting the Cup for three seasons, including 2019-20. The new deal also means that the Spanish Super Cup is now played shortly after the holiday break, in the middle of the season, rather than the week before La Liga opens in August.
Real and Atlético currently sit second and third, respectively, on the league table. Leaders Barcelona gave up two late goals to Atlético Madrid on Thursday, to go out of the competition on a 3-2 upset loss — a loss that left Barca's six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi excoriating his teammates for "childish mistakes," according to a United Press International report.
ESPN FC panelists pondered Barcelona's loss and looked ahead to the Madrid Derby in the video below.While Real Madrid comes into the match as the favorite -- though hardly an overwhelming one, according to odds published by Goal.com -- the best bet may be for a low-scoring game. In the initial Madrid derby this season, back on September 28, neither team was able to find the back of the net.
Now, for the Super Cup final, Real Madrid must figure out a way to score without leading goal-producer Karim Benzema (16 goals in all competitions), while fullback Gareth Bale and striker Eden Hazard were also excused from making the trip to Saudi Arabia.
On the other side of the ball, Atlético will make do without either Thomas Lemar or Diego Costa. But leading scorer Álvaro Morata — whose 81st-minute penalty equalized for Atlético against Barcelona — is expected to be in the starting 11.
Real Madrid comes in at odds of 2.20 — meaning a $1 bet would pay off a profit of $1.20 — while their crosstown rivals have been given 3.30 odds. The betting odds on the match ending on level terms are set at 3.25.
The Real Madrid vs. Atlético Madrid Spanish Super Cup final kicks off at 9 p.m. local time in Jeddah — which is 1 p.m. EST, 10 a.m. PST in the United States, where the game will be viewable only in an online stream via ESPN3.