The King Fahd International Stadium played host to an El Clasico thriller last night, with Real Madrid edging bitter rivals Barcelona 3-2 after extra time to reach the final of the Supercopa de Espana.
It proved to be a contest of note for many reasons, not least because of the debut handed to Barcelona recruit Ferran Torres after his registration was confirmed earlier in the week.
Xavi’s side twice came from behind to take the game into extra-time, but Federico Valverde’s 98th-minute effort was enough to see Real Madrid over the line.
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Los Blancos - five points clear at the summit of La Liga, and 17 points ahead of their El Clasico rivals - now have the chance to add another piece of silverware to their collection in 2021/22.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side will face the winner of tonight’s other semi-final between Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao in Riyadh.
We caught up with Eurosport Spain’s Jorge Ordas to understand whether Barcelona are really showing signs of improvement Xavi, and whether Real Madrid should be worried by last night’s display…

Last night’s game was closer than expected, what does this tell us?

The Super Cup was a great opportunity for Barcelona to regain their form. Xavi explained that it was a 'turning point' and that's how they approached the game.
For their part, Real Madrid could not allow a defeat against an 'inferior' rival, so both teams gave their best. Hopefully for Spanish football it is the return of a great rivalry between the two giants.

Given the performance, are there signs Xavi is turning things around?

Since Xavi arrived at Barcelona, there has been talk of the 'Xavi effect', but no big changes have been seen until now. However, the game against Real Madrid perhaps showed the best of the team.

Luuk de Jong and Ferran Torres in action for Barcelona.

Image credit: Getty Images

Despite the defeat, it could be a good turning point for the team. In addition, players like Pedri or Ansu Fati returned and Ferran [Torres] made his debut. This should improve for Barcelona in the second half of the season

What is missing from Barcelona to get them to Madrid's level?

For now, Barcelona needs to recognise the change of cycle after the departure of Messi and other great players. They have undergone very big changes in a short time and the economic conditions of the club are not the best either.
If the new youngsters become stars, Barcelona will be able to regain the level of Real Madrid, but if not, it will be difficult to return to the European elite

Should Real be concerned about their performance, particularly defending?

Real Madrid suffered a lot against Barcelona in defence, but it must be kept in mind that the real leader was not there - David Alaba.

Real Madrid defender David Alaba.

Image credit: Getty Images

We must also consider that an important player like Dani Carvajal returned after a long time without playing due to injury. Defence has been a very important factor in the team's success and it should continue to be important.

Vinicius was in great form, how has he been and how far can he go?

Few expected the growth of Vinícius this season.
His big problem, effectiveness, has been solved, and that has allowed his confidence to grow to enormous limits.
Right now, he is one step away from becoming a top footballer.
On Sunday, in the final, he will have a new opportunity to continue being the team leader along with Karim Benzema.

Equally, Fati was on the scoresheet, How important is he to the rebuild?

Barcelona have introduced young players like Pedri, Gavi and Nico Gonzalez in the last two seasons. But perhaps the greatest is Ansu Fati.
Injuries have definitely prevented him from exploding, but he is an impressive player. If he can finally recover and maintain consistency, he could be called to be the team leader for the next decade.
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