The Spanish Super Cup returns to Saudi Arabia for the first Clasico of the year

Real Madrid and FC Barcelona will meet for the first time in 2022 in the Saudi capital with Xavi in the dugout

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Benzemá and Piqué dispute a ball during the last Clásico at Camp Nou

The pandemic brought the Super Cup back to Spain. Until 2020, the tournament had been played on national territory, however, the agreement between the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and Saudi Arabia signed in 2019 changed the venue of the competition and fed the coffers of Spanish football with petrodollars. A transaction that exported matches to the Desert Kingdom in exchange for oxygen in the accounts.

Riyadh keeps its part of the contract at a rate of 30 million euros per season. The first agreement negotiated by Luis Rubiales in 2019 covered the next three editions. That is, until this season. However, the RFEF president has reportedly reached a new renewal agreement for the next seven seasons, a record that would bring Spanish football a profit of close to 300 million euros.

Last season, the Super Cup was played in three venues in Andalusia: Cordoba, Malaga and Seville, although it was scheduled to move to Saudi Arabia, specifically to Jeddah, the city that hosted the competition for the first time in January 2020 and which ended with Real Madrid winning on penalties against Atlético de Madrid after Fede Valverde's famous tackle on Álvaro Morata.

But in 2022 the Super Cup will return to Saudi Arabia, this time to the capital Riyadh. There, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona will meet in the semi-finals, and they will play the Clasico for the first time in front of the Saudi fans on 12 or 13 January. Only one can reach the final in what would be a repeat of Real Madrid's recent 2-1 win at Camp Nou. Although this time it will be Xavi Hernandez and not Koeman who will presumably sit on the bench.

The other clash pits Diego Pablo Simeone's Atletico Madrid, the reigning La Liga champions, against a struggling Athletic Club. Marcelino Garcia Toral's side beat Barca at the Estadio Olimpico de la Cartuja, meaning they will be defending their title for the first time on Saudi soil.