Barcelona and Real Madrid are set to meet in the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday evening (2 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+ in the U.S.) in the second Clasico fixture of the season.
Real emerged victorious first time around in October, leaving Camp Nou with a 2-1 win that sent them top of LaLiga.
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The old foes clash again to contest the first of the semifinals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with a place in the grand final on Sunday on the line. Atletico Madrid meet Athletic Bilbao in the other semi on Thursday (2 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+ in the U.S.)
While Barca are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, Xavi Hernandez's injury-depleted side have endured a relative struggle to drum up goals this campaign.
Benzema and Vinicius have scored more goals this season than the entire Barcelona squad combined 😳 pic.twitter.com/m3ywucMc4d— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 9, 2022
Indeed, Real pair Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior have outscored the entire Barca squad thus far, having shared 36 goals between themselves as opposed to the 35 goals collectively amassed by the Catalans.
Benzema has scored 22 goals in just 25 games this season, while Vinicius has pitched in with 14 goals in 26 matches in what has comfortably been the young Brazilian forward's most productive season since his move to Real in 2018.
On the other hand, Barca's top goal scorer is Memphis Depay, who has accumulated eight goals in all competitions in 2021-22. The Dutchman hasn't scored since November, though in mitigation he did miss five games over Christmas and New Year with a hamstring injury.
No other player has managed more than four goals for Barcelona as we move into the latter half of the campaign, and only two players have scored more than three.
Perhaps it's little wonder that Lionel Messi ended the calendar year (2021) as the club's top goal scorer with 28 goals despite leaving to join Paris Saint-Germain in the summer. Even more damning is the fact that Antoine Griezmann was second on the list (15 goals) and he also left the Camp Nou on Sept. 1 in order to re-join Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona 2021-22 goal scorers in all competitions
1. Memphis Depay (8 goals in 22 games)
2. Ansu Fati (4 goals in 8 games)
3. Luuk de Jong (3 goals in 14 games)
4. Gerard Pique (2 goals in 23 games)
5. Ronald Araujo (2 goals in 21 games)
6. Nicolas Gonzalez (2 goals in 22 games)
7. Philippe Coutinho (2 goals in 16 games)
8. Sergi Roberto (2 goals in 12 games)
9. Ferran Jutgla (2 goals in 6 games)
10. Martin Braithwaite (2 goals in 3 games)
11. Sergio Busquets (1 goal in 26 games)
12. Frenkie de Jong (1 goal in 23 games)
13. Gavi (1 goal in 23 games)
14. Ousmane Dembele (1 goal in 10 games)
15. Abdessamad Ezzalzouli (1 goal in 9 games)
16. Sergio Aguero (1 goal in 5 games)
It's understandable why Barcelona worked so quickly to iron out the kinks in Ferran Torres' registration, with the club's need for a reliable goal scorer clear for all to see.
Torres joined Barca from Man City in a €55 million deal earlier this month but the club were unable to initially register him to play due to financial restrictions placed upon them by LaLiga. It took Philippe Coutinho moving to Aston Villa on loan and Samuel Umtiti (a player Barca are actively trying to offload) signing a new long-term contract with a reduced salary, but finally a wide enough margin was created to allow Torres to formally enlist.
🔵🔴👍 #FCBarcelona pic.twitter.com/wyCzhshaJE— Ferran Torres (@FerranTorres20) December 28, 2021
The 21-year-old is regarded as one of the most promising young forwards in Spanish football and already has 12 senior international goals to his name in just 22 caps.
At club level, Torres' current tallies are arguably a little less impressive with 16 goals in 43 games for City, and only nine of those goals coming in the Premier League.
Barca will no doubt be hoping that despite his arrival getting bogged down in administrative rigmarole, their new starlet can start to exorcise the rather embarrassing demons that continue to loom large in the post-Messi era.