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?
BarÃ§a’s midfield brilliance continues to amaze
Xavi HernÃ¡ndez 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 JoÃ£o Moutinho, Guarin and Souza afforded Xavi and Iniesta too much time and the pair thrived as BarÃ§a 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 VÃtor Pereira had clearly urged his side to press BarÃ§a 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 BarÃ§a boss Pep Guardiola faces a selection conundrum. Cesc FÃ bregas, Alexis SÃ nchez and Sergio Busquets ““ none of whom need any introduction ““ started from the bench for Friday’s game. Guardiola replaced David Villa with SÃ nchez after 61 minutes and the Chilean had a positive impact with a number of darting runs. With 10 minutes to play, former Arsenal captain FÃ bregas 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 BarÃ§a 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 RodrÃguez, were ineffective and both were substituted as Pereira sought to add renewed impetus to his side.
BarÃ§a 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 Ã‰ric Abidal continue to deputise in the heart of BarÃ§a’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 BarÃ§a’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 GuarÃn. But referee BjÃ¶rn Kuipers ignored furious protests from the Portuguese side and Abidal escaped unpunished.