Perhaps the most anticipated Spanish Super Cup of all-time is right around the corner.
Barcelona faces main rival Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, in what will be the first of at least four meeting this season.
The Spanish Super Cup is a match featuring the winners of last season's La Liga champions (Barcelona) and the Copa del Rey champions (Real Madrid).
Many would argue that the two best players in the world will be on the field, as Barcelona's Lionel Messi, fresh off a disappointing Copa America tournament, meets up with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, who has had relatively rested off-season.
Real Madrid appears to be favored as Jose Mourinho has made an effort for the squad to be match fit for this important encounter.
Barcelona, on the other hand, may be without defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets, who is injured, and may not have key players like Lionel Messi able to play the full 90 minutes.
One player who doesn't seem likely to play is Cesc Fabregas. Currently a member of Arsenal, the midfielder has yet to move on from Emirates in a deal that appeared to be very imminent. Even if Fabregas was signed on Thursday night, he is not match fit for Sunday.
Barcelona only added one big name: Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean forward joins the Catalans with the departure of Bojan Krkic. Sanchez is seen as an exciting player, though somewhat untested against elite competition.
Real Madrid, however, made four signings but not one player is a high-profile player. Mourinho can still expect big things from wing Fabio Coentrao, forward Jose Callejon, defender Raphael Varane, and midfielders Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop.
This match probably means more to Mourinho, than Pep Guardiola. Real Madrid obviously wants to get the season off on the right foot.
It will be interesting to see if Barcelona starts the season against their arch rival with the same effectiveness they've had against elite opponents last season.
A player to watch will be Thiago Alcantara. The 20-year-old Barcelona midfielder is expected to earn more time this season, and is confident going into Sunday's match.
"It's quite simple: I think that Barcelona will win the trophy," Alcantara recently said. "When you master all defensive and offensive aspects of the game and always enjoy the majority of possession, you're sitting in pole position to win."
Real Madrid only beat Barcelona once last season, which was the 1-0 overtime victory in the Copa del Rey final.