Cristiano Ronaldo is banned, but it would take a huge upset for Real Madrid’s trophy-winning streak to be ended by Barcelona on Wednesday (kick off 2100GMT) as they carry a 3-1 lead into the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Ronaldo’s five-match ban for pushing the referee after being controversially sent-off for diving in the first leg threatens to overshadow another glorious night for Real as they close in on a seventh trophy in less than two years under the tutelage of Zinedine Zidane.
Madrid fans are planning a protest in the seventh minute against the treatment of the World Player of the Year, whilst Zidane was uncharacteristically angered by the ban.
“When you look at everything that happened, to think Cristiano won’t play five games with us… it is infuriating.”
Ronaldo came off the bench to give Madrid a 2-1 lead at the Camp Nou on Sunday with a sensational strike into the top corner.
However, he was then booked for taking his shirt off in celebration and saw a second yellow card just two minutes later when he went down under pressure from Samuel Umtiti inside the area.
The Portuguese captain then pushed referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea before leaving the field – an offence that carries a minimum four-game suspension.
Madrid’s appeal against his second yellow will be heard on Wednesday morning, but even if it is successful the ban will likely only be reduced from five to four games.
– Nothing impossible –
Real, though, showed they can cope admirably without their all-time top scorer as even a man down for the final stages at the Camp Nou, they went onto extend their through Marco Asensio’s sumptuous strike.
Shorn of Ronaldo, Zidane is expected to make just one change from the side that started at the weekend with Luka Modric returning from suspension in place of Mateo Kovacic.
And Zidane warned against complacency as Barca have won on three of their last four visits to the Bernabeu.
“In football nothing is over. We have to play really well because at any moment Barcelona can cause you problems,” added the Frenchman.
Defeat in Ernesto Valverde’s first game in charge compounded a miserable start to the season for Barcelona after losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain.
“We have an adverse result going into the second leg, of that there is no doubt, but nothing is impossible,” said Valverde.
“We maintain our idea of going there to win the game and bring back the title. Yes it is difficult, but we aren’t going to give up beforehand.”
Barca need to score at least three times to have any chance of turning the tie around, but can take hope from the fact they have scored 12 goals in their last four visits to the Bernabeu.
“Scoring three goals there won’t be easy but we have done it many times,” said midfielder Sergio Busquets.
Still in search for a replacement for Neymar, Barca could be further weakened by the absence of captain Andres Iniesta who is doubtful after sitting out training on Tuesday.
New signing Paulinho won’t be involved as he doesn’t arrive in Barcelona until Thursday.