Barcelona's Valverde: Supercopa in Saudi Arabia because of money

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says a desire to make more money has taken four of Spain's top teams to Saudi Arabia for this week's Supercopa.

Barca face Atletico Madrid in Jeddah on Thursday (live at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN3/Deportes), with the winners meeting either Real Madrid or Valencia, who play on Wednesday, in Sunday's final.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation's [RFEF] expansion of the competition from two teams to four has been criticised, but there has been a bigger backlash to the decision to take the tournament to Saudi Arabia.

Barca and Madrid will pocket €6 million each for their participation in the Middle East, while Atletico and Valencia will make around €3m each. Another €1m will go to each of the finalists.

The money comes from a €120m deal which will see Jeddah host the Supercopa for three years after last year's edition was taken outside of Spain for the first-ever time when Barca met Sevilla in a one-off game in Morocco.

"I know the context of the country [we're playing in] has led to a lot of reverberations," Valverde said in a news conference on Wednesday.

"We have to keep in mind that the football we're involved in now is an industry that is always looking for new ways of income. It is what it is."

The Supercopa has historically featured the league winners [Barca] against the cup winners [Valencia] over two legs, but this season it has grown into a four-team tournament and moved to January from August. Atletico and Madrid made up the numbers due to coming second and third in La Liga last season.

Valverde admitted he prefers the old format -- and even moaned that the changes over the last two years have worked against Barcelona as league winners.

"This is my fifth Supercopa and in the first three I had to play the second leg away from home, against the league champions," he added.

"Now, when I have won the league twice [with Barca], we've had a one-off game at a neutral setting and and now these changes this year.

"It's strange to me to have four teams but it is what it is. If I had to choose, I would prefer the previous format, but it's the Federation that decides."

Valverde's mood wouldn't have been helped by a mix up in getting to the Al-Ittihad Sports Centre where his team were training on Wednesday.

He had to delay his news conference until after training after the driver took him and Sergio Busquets -- who was also due to speak to the media before the session -- in the direction of the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium by mistake.

"We've certainly got to know the city a little bit better now," he joked. "The chauffeur thought we were going to the stadium where Valencia and Madrid are playing and we had to turn around. We were quite far away and there was a lot of traffic."

Barca have taken 24 players to Jeddah, including a number of B team players, but are without the injured trio of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Arthur Melo and Ousmane Dembele for their semifinal against Atletico.