One of the greatest rivalries in sports continues Thursday as Copa del Rey champions Barcelona host La Liga champions Real Madrid at Camp Nou for the first match of the Spanish Supercopa.
The first leg will begin at 4:30 p.m. EDT, and can be watched on U.S. television on ESPN Deportes and in the U.K. on Sky Sports 2. It can be watched online here.
Reigning FIFA Ballon d'Or holder Lionel Messi hopes to lead the Catalans to their fourth consecutive Supercopa title. Barcelona own the most Supercopa titles with 10, and could be the first club ever to win four consecutive titles.
Los Blancos will field a high-powered offense that scored 121 goals in 2011-2012, led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo's 46 in La Liga play.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have been the most successful clubs in Supercopa history. Real Madrid will strive for their eighth win in 12 final appearances, and this will be Barcelona's 17th final since the format changed in 1982.
While Barcelona has the most Supercopa wins overall, Real Madrid have bested them in four of the five finals they have faced each other. The Catalans' only win was last year when they won 5-4 on aggregate after a 3-2 victory in the second leg.
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho said Wednesday the La Liga title was far more important to him than the Supercopa.
"If losing the Supercopa is a motivation for winning La Liga I would take that, but I believe it is the least important of the four competitions," said Mourinho.
New Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has a healthy squad for the matchup, but shared Mourinho's sentiments on Thursday's high-profile encounter.
"I don't have anything riding on the result of this game," said Vilanova. "I like to experience this profession calmly. I am sorry, but there are more important things in my life."
Real Madrid will be without gritty center back Pepe, who collided head-on with goalkeeper teammate Iker Casillas in the club's league opener against Valencia.
The Catalans should have most of their first team ready, with no major injuries to report. Barcelona's newest transfer Alex Song may also play.
D: Mascherano, Pique, Adriano, Alves
M: Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta
F: Sanchez, Messi, Pedro
D: Ramos, Albiol, Coentrao, Arbeloa
M: Alonso, Khedira, Ozil, Ronaldo
F: Callejon, Benzema
Prediction: Barcelona will be fired up at home and with a new head coach. Real Madrid will miss Pepe's tenacity, and will need reserves to improve on rather poor showing against Valencia.
Predicted Score: Barcelona over Real Madrid, 3-1