Barcelona have won their first trophy of the season and are the 2023 Spanish Super Cup champions thanks to a comprehensive 3-1 win against Real Madrid on Sunday night’s final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Barça were the better team for virtually all of El Clásico, created big chances and were extremely efficient in front of goal to beat their main rivals and win the first title of Xavi Hernández’s career as Barça manager.
Barça were the better team from the very beginning. They were organized, committed, intense, mature and confident in possession, and they defended very well as a team. The Blaugrana had the first big chance of the half on a rocket from Robert Lewandowski that was deflected onto the post by Thibaut Courtois, and Alejandro Balde narrowly missed the target on the rebound.
Madrid did virtually nothing all half but they did have one chance on a cross from Ferland Mendy that found Karim Benzema all alone inside the box but the striker missed an easy header that should have been the opener. That turned out to be Los Blancos’ only dangerous moment of the period, and Barça dominated the rest.
The Catalans continued to impose their will and press high up the pitch, and that pressure resulted in the opening goal as Sergio Busquets won the ball back, Pedri passed it to Lewandowski who quickly moved it to Gavi inside the box, and the youngster showed great poise to use his left foot and fire it home past Courtois.
Barça then got a crucial second goal just before halftime as Frenkie De Jong played a perfect, line-breaking pass to find Gavi all alone on the left wing, and he once again was poised and composed to wait for the right moment and give Lewandowski an easy tap-in for the second.
At halftime, a near perfect first half from the Catalans had them up two goals on their rivals. Madrid’s reaction was certainly coming in the second half. Could Barça weather the storm and win the title?
Carlo Ancelotti sent Rodrygo off the bench and Madrid started the half with a very different intensity to their pressing, trying to win the ball back as quickly as they could in dangerous positions. But Barça remained poised and limited their mistakes in possession, and Madrid’s initial burst of energy quickly dissipated as they struggled to put together any meaningful attacks against a strong Barça defensive structure.
The Blaugrana also remained a threat going forward, with Lewandowski and Dembélé forcing big saves from Courtois. And with 20 minutes to go, Barça got the all-important third goal as they won the ball in the Madrid half once again and Gavi produced his second assist of the night with a perfect cross to find Pedri all alone for a tap-in at the far post.
Madrid looked defeated after the third goal, and Ancelotti made more attacking changes trying to create a spark that left the team weaker in midfield and more and vulnerable at the back. They did have a few good moments and Marc-André ter Stegen made important saves, but Barça were never in real trouble as we entered the dying moments.
Los Blancos played the final seconds out of pure desperation and finally got a consolation goal through Benzema, but it was too little too late. The final whistle came shortly after, and Barça have their first title of the season.
This was a great all-around performance from a very focused, mature, intense team that were better than their opponents in every department. Barça deserved to win the trophy, and they’ve done it against Madrid. What a sweet Sunday.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal (Nacho 72’), Militão, Rüdiger, Mendy; Modric (Ceballos 65’), Kroos (Asensio 72’), Camavinga (Rodrygo 46’); Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius
Goal: Benzema (90+3’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo (Eric 87’), Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Pedri (Roberto 90’), Busquets, De Jong (Kessie 87’); Dembélé (Raphinha 78’), Lewandowski, Gavi (Fati 90’)
Goals: Gavi (33’), Lewandowski (45’), Pedri (69’)