'Big deal' Messi will draw Supercopa crowds – Pizzi

Ticket sales for the Supercopa de Espana are said to have been poor, but Juan Antonio Pizzi believes Lionel Messi will bring in the crowds.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi.   -  Getty Images

Lionel Messi will draw the crowds in their droves despite fears over ticket sales for the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia, insists Juan Antonio Pizzi. Reports suggest a fraction of the tickets allocated to the four competing clubs – Real Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Atletico Madrid and Valencia – have been sold ahead of the opening game on Wednesday.

The first fixture sees Valencia face Zinedine Zidane's side, with Barcelona taking on Atletico in the second semifinal on Thursday. And Pizzi, who played for Barcelona between 1996-98 and recently had a spell in charge of the Saudi Arabia national team, is confident the venues will be full for all of the matches.

"I have no doubt," he told Marca. "They're aware of how much it means to have the four best teams in Spain and four of the best in the world. It's exceptional for them, like a party. Also, you have to keep in mind Messi is there, who's a person they admire and recognise, so seeing him on the pitch will be a big deal for them."

"They fill grounds and love the sport. The level isn't like Europe yet, and they know that, but that's why they're investing so much and it's why they follow European football so much. Every weekend they watch LaLiga, the Premier League and even the Bundesliga."

Pizzi, who won a top-flight title with Barca in 1998, said his old club have to be considered favourite but warned of the threat Diego Simeone's men will carry.

"Barcelona are a favourite in every competition they play," he said. "But it's one match, so anything can happen. Atletico are a very strong team, too, and they're hard to score against. It's an attractive semi-final."

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