Barcelona v Porto: Uefa Super Cup 2011 preview
Pep Guardiola and VÃtor Pereira expect their sides to put on a spectacle in Friday's Super Cup in Monaco
Managers Pep Guardiola and VÃtor Pereira are predicting an exciting game between Barcelona and Porto in the Uefa Super Cup at Stade Louis II on Friday.
BarÃ§a have set a Super Cup record by reaching the Monaco showpiece for an eighth time ““ and Guardiola has promised an enthralling clash between two of Europe’s most prestigious clubs.
“Finals are meaningful when you play against clubs with a great history ““ it was an honour to play against Manchester United and it’s an honour to play against one of the strongest teams in the world now in Porto,” said Guardiola on Thursday.
“Mathematically their figures are impeccable and when you watch them play you can see they do things very well. I think it will be an excellent final, just like the Champions League was.”
It will be the eighth occasion the two sides have met in European competition, with BarÃ§a holding the superior record after having secured victory over their Portuguese opponents on four previous occasions.
Guardiola will be without defender Gerard PiquÃ©, who tore his calf in training last Tuesday, while Carles Puyol is unavailable after undergoing surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his left knee in June.
Meanwhile, Porto are making their fourth appearance in the Super Cup ““ they triumphed in 1987 before losing both previous trips to Monaco in 2003 and 2004.
As in 1987 and 2004, the Europa League winners approach the final with a different coach from the one that won their qualifying competition ““ Pereira replaced AndrÃ© Villas-Boas as Porto manager this summer and his first test in Europe will be for his side to contain the newly-crowned Best Player in Europe, Lionel Messi.
“You can’t stop Messi with any special tactic,” said Pereira. “You stop him with a strong team performance, by concentrating defensively, covering each other and anticipating intentions. You will see our own game plan and identity; you don’t adapt to your opponent.”
Although Pereira admits BarÃ§a are the best team he had seen in his lifetime, the Porto boss promised his side would put on a show against the Champions League holders.
“We’re here on our own merit following a great season,” Pereira said. “We know Barcelona are a great team, but we’re not here to see them play. We came here to win this game so we have the ingredients for a great spectacle.”
Porto have faced Spanish opposition in the Super Cup before ““ the Portuguese side suffered a 2-1 defeat by Valencia in 2004 and it is the only occasion in which a Spanish and a Portuguese team have faced each other in Monaco.