Real Madrid, Barcelona renew Super Cup rivalry
AP, Thursday 23 Aug 2012
Real Madrid and Barcelona will once again meet in the Spanish Super Cup as the two greatest rivals in club football begin another season of fierce clashes

Real Madrid and Barcelona renew their Spanish Super Cup rivalry on Thursday when Tito Vilanova faces Jose Mourinho at the Camp Nou stadium, where the two coaches famously clashed last year.

Last August's match at Barcelona ended with both teams brawling on the field and Madrid coach Mourinho poking Vilanova in the eye with his finger. Barcelona won the Super Cup 5-4 on aggregate.

Mourinho apologized this summer, aiming to calm tensions before his first meeting with Vilanova as a fellow head coach.

''This isn't about Pep (Guardiola) or Tito, this is about (playing) Barca and that's how we're approaching it,'' Mourinho said Wednesday. ''I think it's a game that will have little effect and if I could choose, I'd choose what happened last year where we lost the Super Cup and won the league. If losing is a motivation for winning the league, I'd sign off on it now.''

The match Thursday is the first of two legs. Madrid hosts the second leg at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sept. 30.

Vilanova, who was an assistant to Guardiola last season, has had a better start to the league after Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 5-1, while Madrid drew 1-1 with Valencia.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking to shake off a forgettable opening game and show his Ballon d'Or credentials against three-time defending world player of the year Lionel Messi, who followed his record 50-goal season with a pair of goals in the La Liga opener.

Barcelona's new signings will get their first taste of the ''clasico,'' the name given to the matchup between Spain's top rivals.

''The last few times we've gone to Barcelona, we've always played well and the result always goes down to the wire,'' said Mourinho, who was originally banned from both legs of this year's Super Cup only for the federation to lift his suspension and Vilanova's one-match ban for a retaliatory slap.

It is the 12th meeting between Madrid and Barcelona since Mourinho's arrival in 2010. Barcelona has won five and lost twice, including 2-1 in their last matchup at the Camp Nou in April. That victory wrapped up Madrid's first league title since 2008.

Barcelona went on to beat Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final to close out Guardiola's last season with a trophy and return to the Super Cup, which pits league winner against cup champion. The competition is scheduled to be played in China next summer.

Madrid defender Pepe will miss the match as he recovers from concussion, leaving Raul Albiol to partner Sergio Ramos at center back. Barcelona striker David Villa should be available after scoring on his return from injury, while midfielder Alex Song could feature after joining from Arsenal.

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