Why are Real Madrid and Atlético in the Spanish Super Cup final?

We explain why Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid are meeting in the Spanish Super Cup final, despite neither side having won LaLiga or the Copa del Rey last season.

Why are Real Madrid y Atlético in the Spanish Supercup final?

Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid clash this Sunday, January 12 (kick-off, 19:00 CET) in the grand final of the new-look Spanish Super Cup.

This season sees the competition expanded from two to four teams for the first time, with two semi-finals and a one-leg final being played at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Arabia was chosen to host the first three editions of the new tournament, from 2020 to 2022). 

Follow Real Madrid - Atlético de Madrid live online: Spanish Super Cup 2020.

As approved by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), the new four-team tournament is made up by the previous season’s finalists of the Copa del Rey and the winners and runners-up of LaLiga.

Barcelona celebrate after winning last season's Super Cup final against Sevilla.

As such, the qualifiers for this year’s inaugural tournament were Barcelona (2018-19 LaLiga Champions and Copa del Rey finalists), Valencia (Copa del Rey 2018-19 winners), Atlético Madrid (LaLiga 2018-19 runners-up) and Real Madrid, who finished third in LaLiga but took the fourth spot as Barcelona were both LaLiga winners and Copa finalists.

How the Spanish Super cup semi-finals are decided

The new tournament regulations state that the LaLiga champions would face the Copa del Rey runners-up in the first semi-final, while the other semi-final sees the Copa del Rey winners take on the LaLiga runners-up.

However, as Barcelona were both LaLiga winners and Copa finalists, a decision was made to hold a draw to select the semi-final ties, in which Real Madrid were drawn against Valencia; and Barcelona against Atlético. (Because of their participation in the tournament, all four sides were made exempt from the second round of this season’s Copa del Rey).

How Real Madrid and Atlético got to the final

Real Madrid players celebrate after Isco nets the second goal against Valencia.

Real Madrid ran out comfortable 3-1 winners against Valencia in the first semi-final in Jeddah on Wednesday, with Toni Kroos, Isco and Modric scoring for Los Blancos before Daniel Parejo clawed one back for the Copa del Rey holders through a stoppage-time penalty.

Atlético Madrid, meanwhile, had the tougher tie against Barcelona on Thursday and, after opening the scoring through Koke, found themselves 2-1 down going into the last 10 minutes. However an 81st-minute Álvaro Morata penalty followed by Ángel Correa’s winner five minutes later ensured a dramatic 3-2 victory for Diego Simeone’s side, who hadn’t beaten El Blaugrana since the second leg of the Champions League quarter final in 2015-16.

As a result of their semi-final victories, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid square off in the first all-Madrid Spanish Super Cup final since 2014.