Barcelona 2 Porto 0: Five things we learned

What did we learn from Barcelona's 2-0 Uefa Super Cup victory over FC Porto on Friday night?

cesc fabregas
Fàbregas has won two trophies in his short time at the Camp Nou Photo: via Twitter

cesc fabregas

Barça’s midfield brilliance continues to amaze

Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta dominated proceedings from their patrol point in the centre of midfield at Stade Louis II. The Spain duo dictated the momentum of the game, orchestrating the Spanish champions’ flowing attacks. Porto’s midfield trio of João Moutinho, Guarin and Souza afforded Xavi and Iniesta too much time and the pair thrived as Barça maintained possession, especially in the second half. Iniesta was named man-of-the-match and it was a deserved honour after another virtuoso performance from the playmaker.

Porto’s resistance wilted

Porto boss Vítor Pereira had clearly urged his side to press Barça straight from the kick-off and the tactic paid dividends in the early stages of the match as the Portuguese champions enjoyed equal spells possession with the Spanish side. But tiredness set in as the half wore on and Pereira’s players began to retreat towards their own goal, inviting the European champions to pick holes in Porto’s weary rearguard ““ and eventually leading to Lionel Messi’s opener. Porto then simply lost their composure in the second half as they spent most of the second period chasing shadows.

Pep Guardiola’s enviable headache

It’s not hard to deduce that Barça boss Pep Guardiola faces a selection conundrum. Cesc Fàbregas, Alexis Sànchez and Sergio Busquets ““ none of whom need any introduction ““ started from the bench for Friday’s game. Guardiola replaced David Villa with Sànchez after 61 minutes and the Chilean had a positive impact with a number of darting runs. With 10 minutes to play, former Arsenal captain Fàbregas was introduced, and the Spain international staked a claim for a regular starting spot with a divinely taken volley to secure the trophy for the Spanish champions.

Hulk looked lonely without Radamel Falcao

Porto’s most effective attacker on the night was Hulk ““ and the Brazilian tested Barça left-back Adriano in the first half. However, the forward looked isolated without the presence of his former strike partner Radamel Falcao, who joined Atletico Madrid earlier in the summer. Porto’s other front men, Kléber and Cristian Rodríguez, were ineffective and both were substituted as Pereira sought to add renewed impetus to his side.

Barça looked shaky at the back

Guardiola’s men won their second trophy of the season without first-choice centre-backs Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué. Javier Mascherano and Éric Abidal continue to deputise in the heart of Barça’s defence ““ but the pair look a fragile combination. Confusion between Mascherano and an onrushing Victor Valdés in the second half almost rendered a routine nod-back-to-keeper a catastrophic blow ““ Abidal came to Barça’s rescue as he prevented Hulk from slotting the ball into an empty net. Shortly after, Abidal was fortunate not to concede a penalty after he carelessly conceded possession to Porto midfielder Fredy Guarín. But referee Björn Kuipers ignored furious protests from the Portuguese side and Abidal escaped unpunished.

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