The revamped Spanish Super Cup debuts in Saudi Arabia this week. The Super Cup’s new semifinals format begins with Real Madrid facing Valencia on Wednesday, then Barcelona taking on Atlético Madrid on Thursday.
The Barcelona-Atlético game was sold out, according to the federation, and only about 10,000 tickets were left for Madrid-Valencia. All games will be played at the 62,000-capacity King Abdullah Sports City stadium outside Jeddah.
More than 35,000 tickets were sold for Sunday’s final in the first 24 hours after being put on sale.
“Success in attendance is guaranteed for an attractive tournament that has gained value thanks to its new format,” the federation said.
It added the new competition has “triggered the illusion” of fans in Jeddah, becoming a “true mass phenomenon in Saudi Arabia.” It said the tournament “will have an exceptional atmosphere.”
“Football evolves, whether we want it or not. We are thrilled to be here fighting for this title,” Valencia coach Albert Celades said. “We will try to bring the trophy back home.”
Some players didn’t make it to Saudi Arabia because of injuries, including Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. Atlético Madrid was without Thomas Lemar and Diego Costa, while Barcelona is missing Arthur, Ousmane Dembele and Marc-André ter Stegen. Valencia traveled with all of its players, including those injured.
“We didn’t come here for tourism, this is an important competition,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We are glad to be playing here and we will do everything to try to win.”
This is the first year of a lucrative three-year deal - reportedly worth 120 million euros ($134 million) - reached by Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales to play the competition in Saudi Arabia. The federation said the deal will help Spain in its attempt to host the 2030 World Cup in a joint bid with Portugal.
The Super Cup was also played abroad last season, when Barcelona beat Sevilla in Tangiers, Morocco.
Barcelona is the most successful club in the Spanish Super Cup with 13 titles, three more than Real Madrid.