Barcelona win the Spanish Super Cup 3-1 against rivals Real Madrid
Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-1 in a thrilling El Clásico to win the Supercopa de España, extending their record.
The white shirts of Real Madrid strode onto the pitch looking to defend their crown. Lucky ticket holders were anticipating for another blockbuster game after both sides presented intense tussles in their semi-final contests. While Saudi Arabia's captivating capital city may not have been Hollywood, it provided the ideal backdrop as the competition's record winners, dressed in blue and garnet, grabbed charge of the first half and sent a clear message to their opponents: they would not be extras tonight.
Early on, Alejandro Balde mysteriously sliced Robert Lewandowski's rebound over, forcing Thibaut Courtois to demonstrate his skill by deftly tipping the shot onto the post. Barcelona subsequently picked up the pace and took a two-goal advantage into halftime, perhaps smelling blood. Lewandowski first noticed Gavi's sprint into the area shortly after the halfway point. If the calmness of the finish didn't evoke comparisons to Lionel Messi in some people, his ensuing assist just before halftime most certainly did. The youngster's deft square pass to Lewandowski allowed the striker to quickly score his 20th goal of the year without missing a beat.
In a game arguably won in midfield, Real were forced into replacing Eduardo Camavinga at HT. That change had little effect though, with Los Blancos watching on helplessly as the ball flashed beyond their grasp. But as eye-catching as Barcelona’s attack can be, the Catalan’s have shown a steely side to their defensive exploits recently. Having conceded just six LaLiga goals this season they shepherded Real through the second half, though Courtois would have to be on hand to ensure Lewandowski didn’t double his tally as the hour mark approached.
As Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets, who were playing in their record-tying 45th El Clásico, hoarded the ball with greedy intent, Karim Benzema cut a lonely figure. Then, with the help of their two future stars, they resoundingly won the first trophy of Xavi's reign. Gavi once more gave the killer pass, allowing Pedri to enter the scene and open fire. The Barcelona midfield played some exhibition football in the waning minutes of a win that will live long in the minds of the Blaugrana supporters, although Benzema did at least help ease the pain of a bitter loss by scoring a late consolation.