Barcelona failed to defend their Spanish Super Cup crown and suffered their worst defeat of the season in the process thanks to a well-deserved and painful 4-1 loss against Real Madrid in Sunday’s Supercopa Final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Barça conceded twice early and never found a way to get back in the game, and Madrid cruised to a comfortable El Clásico victory to avenge last year’s Super Cup defeat and win their first trophy of the season against Xavi Hernández’s men, who looked lethargic and out of ideas from the very beginning and never had a chance against their biggest rivals.
Barça started the game by going two goals behind after 10 minutes: the first came after Jude Bellingham’s through ball from the halfway line went past Jules Kounde’s attempted interception and released Vinicius Junior all alone through the middle, and the Brazilian rounded Iñaki Peña and gave Madrid the lead. The second happened three minutes later as a long ball by Dani Carvajal found the run of Rodrygo who set up Vinicius for an easy tap-in at the far post.
The stunning start by Madrid clearly shocked Barça, and it took a while for the Blaugrana to establish any kind of rhythm and start creating good offense when they had the ball. They found joy catching Madrid’s high line with balls in behind, but Ferran Torres missed a couple of excellent opportunities and couldn’t capitalize.
But a moment of magic seemed to bring Barça back in the game: a cross by Alejandro Balde was headed away by Ferland Mendy and Robert Lewandowski was quickest to the rebound at the edge of the box and fired a sensational volley past Andriy Lunin and into the net.
Before the Catalans could even think about an equalizer, however, Ronald Araujo put his hand on Vinicius’ shoulder in the box and the Brazilian went down immediately. The referee pointed to the spot, and Vinicius completed a first-half hat-trick to restore Madrid’s two-goal lead.
At halftime Barça were down two goals and second-best at every department despite having more of the possession, and they had a mountain to climb to make a miracle second half comeback.
Madrid’s plan for the final period was clear: sit back and absorb pressure and look to kill the game on the counter. Barça had all of the possession but struggled mightily to create meaningful offense, and 20 minutes into the half Madrid went on the counter and dealt the knockout blow: Vinicius’ cross along the ground was intercepted by Kounde in the box but the ball fell kindly to Rodrygo, and the Brazilian fired home Los Blancos’ fourth of the night.
Barça were very obviously affected by Madrid’s fourth goal and showed very little intensity or creativity in their attempts to attack, and it seemed as though the Catalans were almost as content with the result as their rivals and just wanted the game to come to an end.
Things went from bad to worse for the Blaugrana when Araujo was shown a second yellow card and was sent off with 20 minutes to go, and Barça were suddenly in danger of suffering a horrible defeat.
But Madrid decided not to humiliate their rivals and simply ran out the clock, and the final whistle came to end a horrible night for Barça. They never competed and were well-beaten by Los Blancos who never needed to get out of second gear to utterly dominate the game.
Madrid get their revenge, and Barça have no answers to their problems. Xavi’s job will be in huge jeopardy, and it’s hard to see how things get better from here. Tough times indeed.
Real Madrid: Lunin; Carvajal, Rüdiger, Nacho, Mendy; Valverde (Ceballos 86’), Tchouaméni, Kroos (Modric 81’); Bellingham (Joselu 86’); Rodrygo (Brahim 77’), Vinicius (Camavinga 81’)
Goals: Vinicius (7’, 10’, 39’ pen), Rodrygo (64’)
Barcelona: Peña; Araujo, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Gündogan, De Jong; Ferran (Yamal 61’), Pedri (Félix 61’), Roberto (Fermín 61’); Lewandowski
Goal: Lewandowski (33’)
Red Card: Araujo (71’)