Alas, a triumph returns to Catalonia after a drought of 18 months, and against eternal rivals Real Madrid no less. Scintillating, immense, and enjoyable football, Barcelona tonight truly encompassed both their own identity and that of what it means to be Spanish Super Cup champions, simultaneously.
A first half where although possession was shared to an extent, it was all in Barcelona’s control throughout. Pablo Gavi, Frenkie De Jong, and Robert Lewandowski are amongst those that take most of the plaudits for the opening 2 goals, the Catalans finally showcased Xavi’s fluid football and tactical project in full display as fans have been eager to see from quite a while to come to fruition.
Instead of relying solely on their flank plays as had become a redundant approach from Xavi’s team this season when having possession, tonight it was utterly and truly a football that circulated all around the Barcelona triangles and passing lanes.
From flank plays, inverted runs, central passes, and vertical defense-breaking through-balls. Barcelona was a team revitalized and possessed in the first 45 minutes, showcasing a side to them that can arguably act as their blueprint moving forward.
Going into halftime, Barcelona were cruising 2-0. Xavi’s men had demonstrated just how far they have come since the last time these two sides met. The first 45 minutes had been secured, but there always remains an element of a comeback whenever the whites of Real Madrid are involved.
However, they faced not just a tough side to overcome this hurdle, they faced a wall of Blaugrana that have been accustomed to Los Blancos for years, and would not falter like those that did in recent times.
Hitting them stride for stride, if Madrid came to counter in the second half, Barcelona matched them blow for blow, tackle for tackle, and shoulder to shoulder. Suffocating Vinicius Jr, hurdling Karim Benzema, outpacing Carvajal, and empowering Luka Modric, the Catalans were tyrants on the field in Riyadh.
Dominating proceedings in the second half as well, while Madrid did get a bit more of a chance to score during the second 45, it brings into light the fact that the Catalans had not allowed their rivals a single shot on target during the first half.
In front of a sold-out crowd with more than 57,000 spectators looking on, Barcelona were indispensable for even a minute. With long-range attempts, shots from even tighter angles, and breaking the Madrid defensive lines consistently, Barcelona were intelligibly shifting their course of action frequently to put Real Madrid at a bit of a disadvantage.
So used to Barcelona’s rather stagnant passing prior to this game, Los Blancos were not prepared for the incisive decision-making and penetrating tactics that awaited them throughout the 90 minutes.
2 assists and a goal by Gavi already had him sealed as the deserving man of the match winner, and a 3-0 demolition of Real Madrid looked clear as the day had if not been for a good move by Benzema that gave Madrid a goal back, ending the game with a 3-1 scoreline in favor of Barcelona.
With this win, FC Barcelona are this season’s Spanish Super Cup Champions, overcoming their fiercest rivals on foreign soil, and as always has been the case, an El Clasico win can do wonders for a team’s mentality and progression in the season. Riding high after this first taste of silverware, this young and hungry Barcelona side will be keen on continuing this great run of form and quality in displays far into the season as they compete for the remaining titles that they are eligible for.
The remaining objectives are now as follows: La Liga Santander where they currently sit atop the table, the UEFA Europa League where they next face an insurgent Manchester United, and the Copa Del Ray where they next face AD Ceuta in the Round of 16 on Thursday, the 19th of January.
With this massive win now sealed, there is no reason why the Catalans would aspire for anything less than a strong continuation of this promising season.