Having made goal scoring returns at the weekend it's likely that both Carles Puyol and David Villa will start from the bench. Gerard Piqué should return for Puyol, so too Andrés Iniesta with Cristian Tello probably making way, Alex Song could make his debut.
The collision between goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Pepe, which resulted in Jonas headed equalizer against Valencia, was a nasty one. Pepe's impression of Terry Butcher was short-lived, as the head bandaged centre-back was substituted at half-time. Spending the night in hospital as a precaution, he even momentarily thought his name was 'Pablo', Raul Albiol will replace him.
Life after Pep was reminiscent of life with him. Tito's Barça couldn't have wished for a better start, 3-1 up after 15 minutes. As expected the philosophy remains, though they seemed a little more direct, showing more vertically incisive play. However, this may have been due to the players trying to show that it wasn't all about Guardiola.
José felt his side done enough to beat Valencia at the weekend, although he did concede that they weren't at their best. Having looked comfortable for the first 40 minutes, they were required to up their game in the 2nd half, the cutting-edge which took teams apart last year was some way off.
Gone are the days where they play each other just twice a season, being the best two club teams in the world will continue to throw them together. Last season they faced off six times with Barça winning three, two draws and Real Madrid the once. It was the once that is perhaps the most pivotal, Mourinho finally exorcising his demons as the Whites coach against the Catalans. In all of those games, both teams got on the score-sheet, for a repeat of this you can get 1.55.
What The Gaffers Say
"No team gets better than another. What I know is that Barcelona has made things unique, winning 14 of 19 possible titles." - Tito Vilanova
"If we lose the Supercopa it'll be a greater motivation for us to win the league, but I think it's the least important competition of the four trophies we're playing in this season." - José Mourinho
Big games, call for big players. The best two in the world once again go head-to-head, Ronaldo's recent upsurge against Barcelona has gone some way to dispelling the myth that he doesn't perform in the important matches, he has scored in his last three visits to the Camp Nou. After an impressive Euro 2012, he was quiet against 'Los Che', "I am not yet 100 percent, but I hope to get back to top form soon," admitted the winger after the game. He registered no shots on target for the first time at the Bernabéu.
Messi started the season like he ended it, another double in the bag. As he specialises at scoring against Real Madrid, with 13 goals to date, it's hard to look past him playing a pivotal role once again. For Ronny to open the scoring it's 6.50, whilst his Argentine nemesis can be found at 4.00.
Since the 5-0 mauling during Mourinho's first season in Spain, the games have become tight affairs in terms of scoreline, though entertainment has been in abundance. Trying to avenge the last defeat, Barcelona should just edge this one, which you can find at 1.75 or if you take Real Madrid 0-1 in a 3-Way Handicap, Barça winning by a solitary goal will give you the draw at 3.75.
In the last six meetings between the pair they have created 23 goals between them, averaging just under four goals a game, over 3.5 goals is 2.60. For a safer bet, why not try over 2.5 goals at 1.65, as a minimum of three goals were scored in each of the ties last campaign.
Score Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid at odds of 8.50.