UEFA Super Cup Preview

It’s not everyday that I get to preview a European Super Cup match. You’ll forgive me for humming “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” while I write this but the opportunity to add our second trophy of the season in as many weeks has me in a frenzied state. I haven’t started foaming at the mouth yet, but the lack of Liga action last weekend certainly isn’t helping. Every trophy matters as this Barcelona team looks to enshrine themselves in the history books.

I want that

Porto, meanwhile, will be looking to write their own history and lift the Cup for only the second time in their history. You have to go back to 1987 for their last win, as the failed to win in both 2003 and 2004. As an aside, that makes this the only competition other than La Liga that Mourinho has participated in and not won at least once. Neener Neener. Porto earned their place after they blitzed their way through the Europa League last season, winning 12, drawing 1, and losing 2 with an attacking brand of football under up-and coming manager Andre Villas-Boas.

While Villas-Boas has taken the unenviable task of guiding Chelsea through a transition period, expect Porto to play much the same as the did last year. New manager Vitor Pereira hasn’t made many changes or had to deal with losing many players. Their leading scorer Falcao has been snapped up by Athletico and it will be up to new signing Kleber to take his place (he scored 7 goals in as many friendly matches this summer). I’m going to go ahead and predict their starting XI looks something like: Helton – Fucile Otamendi Rolando Sapunaru – Moutinho Souza Guarin – Hulk Kleber Varela. They’ve started, and won, both their league games with this lineup, and until someone corrects me in the comments I don’t believe they have any injuries.

The big injury news in the Barcelona camp is that Pique is out for this match having picked up a calf injury in training. Meawhile it won’t surprise you that Puyol and Afellay are both still recovering. Having Pique and Puyol both out gives us our first difficulties at center back of the season. Honestly, Mascherano and Abidal’s recent form has given me more free hours in the day to not worry about Puyol’s long-term injury, but missing Pique as well is a huge blow. I expect to see Mascherano and Abidal paired at the back, although I’m actually hoping to see Fontas start with Abidal playing left back.

Oier, Bartra, Dos Santos, and Cuenca have come along for the UEFA Super Cup ride. I was going to call them youth players, but it hardly seems fair to call them that when there is a decent chance any of the four will spend half their time with the first team squad this season. But I digress…

I’m not going to even bother predicting Barcelona’s starting XI, as Pep has so many options he could field 10 different line-ups without it surprising me. When everyone on the team is healthy almost no one will have a guaranteed starting spot. Well, I expect to see Messi and Valdes for every match they’re healthy for, but apart from that…

Pereira recently said in an interview “You will see our own game plan and identity; you don’t adapt to your opponent.” so we should be in for an attacking match with a lot of goals.  Their record of 37 goals for and 14 against in 15 games in the Europa League isn’t too different than Barcelona’s 30 – 10 in 13 games in the Champions League. The difference of course is the difference between the Europa League and the Champions League. Anything can happen in a one-off match, but I expect Pep to have the boys ready to play.

Official Prediction: 3-2 Barcelona. I think this one has the potential to be remembered as a fantastically exciting match.

And I’m not the only one. Guardiola recently commented: “Finals are meaningful when you play against clubs with a great history…I think it will be an entertaining final, just like the Champions League was.”

Game time is 2:45 EST tomorrow.

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68 Comments

  1. nzm
    August 25, 2011

    Dear Barca Team

    A win on my birthday would be extra-especially nice.

    Thanks, and lotsa love
    M xoxo

  2. paxtonpale
    August 25, 2011

    My prediction almost the same but only 1 goal will be conceded. I would expect Valdés to be on his game as usual with his two brilliant performances in goal against Madrid. I would like to see Fontas play at centre back with Mascherano and Abidal at left back. I am hoping that Barca will play Fabregas for at least 30 minutes as he has made an impact in the two games he has played.

  3. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 25, 2011

    I WANT that cup.
    I’ve never felt excited about a Supercopa, but I always excited about UEFA Super Cup.

    to get here we must win UCL or EL first, which extremely hard. so I do really hope we’ll win this cup.

    Pique – Abidal and Mascherano – Pique are solid pairs. meanwhile we don’t know for sure how good is Masch – Abidal partnership as centerbacks (obviously 1st leg at Bernahpoo they looked miserable, but that’s mainly because of lack preparation and lack of fitness)

  4. mom4
    August 25, 2011

    2:30 EST on FSC y’all.

    It’s not an important cup I suppose. But I want it too. It’s too rare to get into this final. It’s a priviledge and we we earned it through blood, sweat, tears, tackles, cancer, and porques galore. Changed my mind, it is an important cup. Let’s do this thing. I’m a little worried about Hulk, but look at our “makeshift” back line: Alves, Masche, Abidal, and Adriano(please start this line, Pep). How many teams can boast that kind of quality in a “makeshift” back line?

  5. Ron Mexico
    August 25, 2011

    Hey folks! I’m a first time commenter, but I’ve been checking the blog for most of the summer. I appreciate the quality of both the content and the community, and look forward to being more interactive.

    In regards to this makeshift backline, I’m a bit nervous about the Abidal-Mascherano pairing. Like BarcaGirl mentions above, we have very little evidence to make any sort of rash judgement, and it wouldn’t completely surprise me if they were great together.

    However, its important to note that the vast majority of both player’s time in the center has been when paired with an experienced player such as Pique or Puyol. I don’t think you can overstate the importance of having that rock to lean on for a player like Mascherano or Abidal, especially in terms of communication and the deployment of the off side trap.

    You could see this in the first leg of the super cup. The introduction of Pique immediately solidified the central defense and the off-side trap immediately produced a number of positive results.

    In Abidal and Mascherano’s defense, they’ve likely spent much of their time in the center deferring to a Pique or Puyol, who are more positionally aware and comfortable. But this can create a problem where neither player is truly assertive in communication and execution. Not saying this can’t be overcome with time, but if this duo gets off to a rocky start I wouldn’t be surprised.

    • blitzen
      August 25, 2011

      Hello, and welcome!

      In regards to this point:

      In Abidal and Mascherano’s defense, they’ve likely spent much of their time in the center deferring to a Pique or Puyol

      You should know that Abidal has played CB many times for the French national team, so he is quite comfortable there. He played in that position just recently in the game against Chile while wearing the captain’s armband, and he was excellent.

      • Ron Mexico
        August 25, 2011

        Certainly he has played CB for France many times (though he was relatively poor there at the last WC). But I believe this is a bit of a different challenge. With France he was still always paired with a natural CB like Gallas, Kaboul, etc. And the difference in systems shouldn’t be taken lightly. I doubt (missed the game myself) France played with such a high offense line that called for the type of communication and decision-making that Barca requires. That is the cause for my concern.

        Both Abidal and Mascherano have demonstrated the ability to play at the highest level in the center back position. Its just that I can see the duo taking some time to gel and hash out an on-pitch understanding.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          August 25, 2011

          Both Abidal and Mascherano have demonstrated the ability to play at the highest level in the center back position. Its just that I can see the duo taking some time to gel and hash out an on-pitch understanding.

          agreed. let’s just hope it doesn’t take long for them to gel and hash-out an on-pitch understanding.

          and welcome, Ron Mexico! 😀

    • Brosep
      August 26, 2011

      Recently we saw sMasch and Abidal line up together against Madrid and they were, Abidal in particular, somewhat demolished by Madrid’s attack (Ozil!)

      But I’m not worried about this pairing tomorrow for a few reasons, least among them fitness. The primary difference maker for me is Busquets. I have an almost irrational level of faith in the composure of the defense when Busquets is in midfield, and I think that, partially because of him, the pressure that our defense can expect to endure will be much less than what Madrid piled onto it.

      I’m really looking forward to this game. Porto is a dynamic, attacking team taking on the European champions in a one-off. Not the time for a new manager’s championship side to sit back and play defense.

      • just listenin
        August 26, 2011

        “I have an almost irrational level of faith in the composure of the defense when Busquets is in midfield”

        I agree, except I think it is actually quite rational, Busi is still underrated in my opinion when in form. He is critical to stalling the opposition attack, and transitioning it to the Barca attack.

  6. SoccerMom
    August 25, 2011

    There’s Season, and there’s Super Silly Season.

    There’s the Supercopa de la Liga (Liga Champs vs. la Copa del Rey champs) …

    followed by the UEFA Supercopa (European Champs vs. UEFA Champs) …

    and the Supergamperbernaboo Copa (which presents itself as an Invitation-Only-Friendly, but really is just a chance for a big team to win a little trophy over an invisible opponent in front of thousands of screaming fans. “Napoli, you don’t mind showing yourself the door, do you? We’re a little busy here … ” )

    Why not the Supercopas Copa (The winners of the Supercopas chug sangría from their respective copas and then run around on the pitch for 90 minutes)?

    Or the Superdo Copa (The teams with the wildest hair square off … Villa and Puyi vs. Coentrao and Callejón — oh, no, another Clásico)?

    Or the Superwheretowho Copa (The teams who have signed players from the farthest distances play on a pitch located only on GoogleEarth. I’m looking for a miracle in Dagastan!)?

    Just kidding! Enjoy the match all!

    • blitzen
      August 25, 2011

      Why not the Supercopas Copa (The winners of the Supercopas chug sangría from their respective copas and then run around on the pitch for 90 minutes)?

      Have you seen the size of the Bernaboo Copa compared to our little Gamper Trofeu? The RM players would get so smashed they wouldn’t know which penalty box to dive in!

      • just listenin
        August 26, 2011

        I think if we had enough of these Copas where the winners play the winners we would likely somehow end up with only ourselves to play, which is kinda cool…

        • August 26, 2011

          Did you see the Napoli game? It’s kind of like that… their players could easily be replaced by orange cones (or white ones just for fun).

          • just listenin
            August 26, 2011

            Right! I’m sure we would more convincingly beat the white cones, …maybe they could put googly eyes on one, the collar up on another, a headband, and have somebody just repeatedly throw a couple of the cones at the players shins.

    • Miguel
      August 26, 2011

      Why not the Supercopas Copa (The winners of the Supercopas chug sangría from their respective copas and then run around on the pitch for 90 minutes)?

      Sounds like almost every pick up game I’ve ever played. I’d like to think I could defend Messi in such a situation.

  7. The__K__Man
    August 25, 2011

    I need this cup. I need it as much as I’ll be needing food at the time the match begins (my Islamic fasting ends at that time). I flew all the way from Egypt to watch us lifting that cup. Hope the guys don’t screw it up for me!

    • NeverEver
      August 26, 2011

      lol ya akhy, the game comes in the middle of jumm3a in my time! inshaAllah we will see the win!!

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 26, 2011

      whoaaa. you end your fasting at the time match begins?
      awesome!

      you’ll need energy to scream for our team. you should bring some foods and water! 😀

  8. andrecito
    August 25, 2011

    last night i clicked on a link that i thought would be the champs league drawing…but instead it turned out to be a profile on radamel falcao…i never really saw any video of him before…i was amazed…he is deadly in the air..i am sad we can’t watch him in the supercup…i am so surprised he went to athletico..i hope he has a good season (of course not against us)..

  9. Diego
    August 25, 2011

    For People who missed it :

    -Armenia, San Marino, and Portugal voted for Cristiano.

    -Lionel Messi’s 2nd goal in the Champions League semifinals in Madrid was named best goal of the Champions League by UEFA #fcblive [sport]

    Roma and Sevilla crash out.

    As long as Busq plays, I’m happy with Abi-Masch at CB.

    For People who are worried about lack of CBs, EE have Pepe,Carvalho,Albiol,Ramos,Varane. 3 Very Good, 1 Good, 1 Young inexperienced. We have Puyol,Pique,Masch,Abi,Fontas. I think we both have the same situation. Although I trust our backline much more.

    • mom4
      August 26, 2011

      As long as Busq plays, I’m happy with Abi-Masch at CB.
      Amen!

      VV
      Alves, Masche, Abi, Adriano
      Busi, Xaviniesta
      MVP (P! needs to start this one since he won it for us a few years ago)
      subs: Cesc, Alexis, ?
      3-0 (Messi(2), Villa)

      Dang, saw a picture of Hulk. He’s scary looking. Are you sure he’s not a rugby player.

  10. Blau-Grenade
    August 26, 2011

    Looking forward to an entertaining European match.

  11. Neel
    August 26, 2011

    I have been following Kaka’s situation in Madrid. I hope he gets to leave and I hope it is to Arsenal, although it looks quite unlikely, as that would reinforce Arsenal a bit and would make EPL more bearable.
    However what really interests me is that I have a feeling that once Kaka is out, he is gonna come out criticizing the negativity in the game which Mou inserts in EE’s game.

  12. Jnice
    August 26, 2011

    Happy Birthday, nzm! Enjoy your day (a Barça win would make it more enjoyable, I;m sure). 🙂

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 26, 2011

      ah, yes. happy birthday, nzm! 🙂 (Michelle, right?)

    • nzm
      August 26, 2011

      Thanks Jnice and BarcaGirl_Indo! Yes, it is Michele!

  13. barca21farid
    August 26, 2011

    Hello fellow awesome cules. i think everyone is thinkin d same thing, that we gonna lift our 2nd trophy tonight. but Porto is a real dangerous opponent, especially with Hulk up front. that guy is a beast.

    I really hope our players will be ready to beat them and wont let what happened against Sevilla in 2006 happen again.

    visca barca visca catalonia

  14. Gogah
    August 26, 2011

    lets get this in the bag and start the season already!

  15. flyzowee
    August 26, 2011

    I dont understand something.
    Why is this game always played in Monaco France?

    I ask this because apparently the pitch over there is in poor condition.
    It was the same when we played Shaktar over there in 09
    Why cant they play in Paris or smth?

    • August 26, 2011

      It’s supposed to be a “tradition” but this is the last supercup played there but i don’t know where the new venue will be. The pitch was in very very poor condition in 2009 as well. Uefa should be ASHAMED all this blaaah blaah football shiny ceremony and then have the game’s top players play in pitch like that year after year!

      • flyzowee
        August 26, 2011

        Yep i quite remember in 09 Pep saying that we risked injuries out there.

        Puyol also said that we would have been seen to be making excuses if we had lost that game.

        How come our influence on uefa is not manifesting itself on the quality of the pitch i wonder….

    • August 26, 2011

      Now I think they understand that teams want to get the best deal, and will negotiate for said best deal. That cracked me up, too.

      • blitzen
        August 26, 2011

        You give them too much credit, dear boy. They will still be talking for years about how we “robbed” them.

        meanwhile, they had better get cracking. Only a few more days in the transfer window!

        • August 26, 2011

          Word on the street is they’re underbidding and not really pressing all that hard for anyone. Perhaps they were buoyed by the deceptive Udinese scoreline.

  16. August 26, 2011

    Line up prediction:
    ———–Valdes
    Alves Mascherano Abidal Adriano
    ———–Busquets
    ——Iniesta —– Xavi
    –Messi—–Villa —–Alexis

    With Mascherano and Valdes playing at such a high level, we could be hopeful of not conceding, but it also depends on Abidal’s fitness. Hope he hits top gear tonight!

    2-0

    Cesc to come on around 80-ish minute like before and lift another piece of silver, making it 3 out of 3 matches, how does that sound?

  17. Calvin
    August 26, 2011

    So I seem to be almost on my own with the desire to see Fontas start, but there are two reasons I’d like to see it:

    1) Mascherano and Abidal are too similar as centerbacks to form a very good working partnership. They both complement Pique very well but when you put them together I think they are just too similar. Both like to be the man who makes the last ditch tackle and cover for their partner at the back. It’s the same reason I wouldn’t play Fontas and Pique at the back together if I could avoid it: their skill sets and mentalities as a center back are too similar.

    2) Hulk. He plays as a right winger and cuts in, meaning he will be spending a lot of time up against our left back. Adriano has been phenomenal this preseason and has been looking like a serious attacking threat, but I don’t think there’s much argument that Abidal is a better defender. I think Abidal’s physicality, speed, nous, and no-nonsense attitude would be better used directly against Hulk, who will undoubtedly be their most dangerous attacker.

    I’d like to see a Alves Fontas Mascherano Abidal backline.

    • August 26, 2011

      All I know is that I am still just getting my mind around the fact that we can bring Sanchez AND Fabregas off the bench to change matches.

      Ramzi’s notion (via Twitter) of a Sanchez/Messi/Fabregas front line is an interesting one, I must admit. Two layers of possession, backed by Xavi/Iniesta/Busquets, STILL with Pedro and Villa in reserve?

      This crap is kinda stupid.

      • blitzen
        August 26, 2011

        Maybe too soon to start both Fabregas and Sanchez at the same time, with a cup on the line, especially with Sanchez just recovered from his injury? Still, you never know what Pep might do!

      • Calvin
        August 26, 2011

        The only worry I have with a front-line like that is I think we could get ourselves in trouble if we don’t have at least one forward playing an “advanced forward” role. What I mean is that we should always have at least one forward stretching the oppositions back line (and ideally also providing width).

        I’m worried that if we field a forward line with three players who drop deep that we will be left without a reference up front and will lose a lot of attacking thrust. Of course, Messi is able to drop deep and provide a reference up front, but I think it would be good to have at least one full time reference.

        Of course, I’m not really entirely sure how Sanchez is going to evolve in our system. I think he has the skills to play several different roles, and it will be interesting to see how Guardiola prefers to use him.

    • Miguel
      August 26, 2011

      I wanna see Fontas but I can see Pep playing Adriano since Hulk’s left footed and he’ll be cutting in from the right side.

  18. mom4
    August 26, 2011

    Happy Birthday to Michele!

    Would you like a present for your birthday? Maybe something silver, perhaps engraved? OK, now our boys must win this for nzm.

    • nzm
      August 26, 2011

      Thanks mom4 – they did alright by me!

  19. August 26, 2011

    And you know, as trophies go, this one is very attractive, unlike the asstactic, t-shirt-looking thing that Messi picked up yesterday.

    • August 26, 2011

      But don’t forget that the principality’s tax base is pretty much nonexistent, because residents aren’t taxed. It’s why the rich and famous live there. It’s a lovely place to visit, but there isn’t a lot to do outside of walking the F1 course and giggling at the American men as they gawk at the sunbathing (often topless) supermodel types at the local pool.

      And Monaco isn’t even in Ligue 1 this season, right?

      Other things conspire against Monaco having a nice pitch, such as footy’s status in France, the weather in those parts, etc, etc.

      But yes, that pitch is crap.

  20. Ryan
    August 26, 2011

    Recall last year that Patetico beat Inter for this trophy, ensuring that the feats of 2009 Barca would remain unique.

    Here’s hoping we can keep our winning momentum and add another trophy to the list!

  21. Josep
    August 26, 2011

    so bizarre..my friend said something about Mike Vick on gchat and I said “ron mexico?” two minutes later I’m in here reading this post and BAM

    RON MEXICO.

  22. blitzen
    August 26, 2011

    “It’s not true. You can believe me or Phil Gartside. You are free, absolutely, to think what you want. I just tell you it’s not right” – Arsene Wenger denies Bolton’s claim that the cash-heavy Gunners have offered £6m for Gary Cahill. When asked if the figure was lower, the Frenchman replied: “You know me very well.”

    Laughing so hard! 😆

  23. Miguel
    August 26, 2011

    Barcelona line-up (official): Valdes – Alves Mascherano Abidal Adriano – Xavi Keita Iniesta – Pedro Messi Villa

  24. Whatever
    August 26, 2011

    Why isn’t Busquets playing? I don’t understand Guardiola…

      • flyzowee
        August 26, 2011

        Im guessing he got injured in the warm up
        No other explanation fop me.

        • Miguel
          August 26, 2011

          Barcelona bench: Oier, Fontas, Busquets, Dos Santos, Thiago, Cesc, Alexis

      • Whatever
        August 26, 2011

        This is a one-game-for-a-trophy thing, so we should be playing with the best available line-up.

      • mom4
        August 26, 2011

        So much for the our back line will be fine with Busi as DM argument. *stamps feet, throws tantrum, and goes off to sulk in the corner*

  25. barca96
    August 26, 2011

    I thought we are playing a full strength side until I saw Keita in the DM slot 🙁
    I know he got the MOtM award but that was Napoli for goodness’ sake.

  26. mei
    August 26, 2011

    Guys settle down.
    First busqi is probably not match fit , or overall fit.
    Second of all keita was the MoM last game , in which he also scored.
    Have faith and support the team.
    This is the best lineup, guardiola says so.

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