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Imperious Ilkay Gundogan gives Barcelona a chance at Real revenge

Understated excellence

FC Barcelona v CA Osasuna - Super Copa de España Semi-Final Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

Looking at Barcelona’s performance against Osasuna in their Spanish Super Cup semi-final as a whole, large portions were again not really good enough for this club.

There are standards that should be set and they are not being met on a weekly basis at present.

To dismiss the 2-0 victory as a lucky win would be somewhat disingenuous, however.

The team from Pamplona rarely threatened and even when they did, Barca’s defence and Inaki Pena were generally up to the task.

Plaudits for the night should really be reserved for Ilkay Gundogan, however.

The German has often found himself on the end of some pretty harsh criticism from culers this season, though his stats from Thursday’s game bear witness to a fine showing from the midfielder.

His was a match of understated excellence.

When watching the game back, just concentrate on Gundogan’s movement and associative play, and I guarantee that you’ll see an entirely different match to the one that you thought you were watching.

A first assist to Robert Lewandowski since the pair played together at Dortmund in 2012 isn’t before time, and that could prove to be a real fillip for the Polish international just when he needs it most.

Lamine Yamal’s late second sees him adding a youngest-ever scorer accolade in this competition too, and whilst his finish was sublime, the goal owed much to Joao Felix’s brilliant run.

FC Barcelona v CA Osasuna - Super Copa de España Semi-Final Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

There were one or two other acceptable performances from the likes of Inaki Pena and Andreas Christensen, though it’s fair to say that Xavi will understand that he still has a lot to work on ahead of Sunday’s final.

By comparison to the Blaugranes, Los Blancos look like a well-oiled machine - but it’s a Clasico.

As Gundogan himself said after the 2-1 defeat to Real earlier in the current campaign; “I wish there was more frustration and anger, more disappointment [...] I didn’t come here to lose these types of games and let the gap create. There’s also a responsibility from myself, you know an experienced player, to not let these things happen. We need resistance.”

Sunday’s match provides the perfect opportunity for the midfielder and his colleagues to gain immediate revenge and put another piece of silverware in the cabinet.

They’ll need to raise their game back to the level of that match too.

It will be remembered for Jude Bellingham’s pile-driver, but let’s not forget that Barca were by far the better team until that point.

With Pedri fit again it’s another timely boost for Xavi, who has to get his tactics right or run the risk of being embarrassed... something that Ilkay Gundogan rightly won’t accept.

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