Real Madrid and Barcelona have already come face to face in one pre-season friendly, but this was the first competitive clash between the two of the season in the Spanish Super Cup. The first leg was held on Sunday night at the Camp Nou as Real Madrid ran out 3-1 winners.
Gerard Pique, an unlikely first goalscorer, ended up turning the ball into his own net as he slid across to block an Isco cross but inadvertently ended up deflecting it past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and into the Barcelona goal.
Barcelona leveled 25 mintues later as Keylor Navas felled Luis Suarez despite strong protests from the Madrid squad. Lionel Messi duly converted from 12 yards.
Not to be outdone, Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced as a substitute and humiliated Pique with a brilliant piece of skill and a smart finish from the egde of the box to give his side the lead on the counter attack. It also saw him collect a yellow card for his celebration before being sent off for a dive shortly after.
Marco Asensio added a third for Real Madrid in the dying moments as, in a similar move to Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal, he smashed the ball past Ter Stegen and into the roof of the net.
Here are three things that The Boot Room learnt from the game…
The mind games have already begun
In their pre-match press conferences, Ernesto Valverde suggested that Gerard Deulofeu wouldn’t start for Barcelona, whilst Zinedine Zidane hinted that Cristiano Ronaldo would. The reality was the opposite in both cases. With the second leg on Wednesday, expect that to continue.
Valverde is known to be a shy figure who is not keen on talking to the press as much as the likes of previous Barcelona and Real Madrid managers, and his style will prove to be different at the Camp Nou. His entering into mind games so early on may come as a surprise, but it will only make life more difficult for Zinedine Zidane.
Cristiano Ronaldo is always at the centre of attention
A second half substitute rarely has such an influence on a game. That being said, a second half substitute is rarely Cristiano Ronaldo. His goal to give Real a second half lead was sensational, a quick and powerful run finished with incredible skill and an even more remarkable strike into the top corner.
Booked for his celebration, mimicking Lionel Messi’s holding aloft of his shirt in the La Liga tie earlier this year, Cristiano saw red not long later. Running alongside Samuel Umtiti into the penalty box, he went down theatrically and was adjudge to have dived. To make matters worse, he aggressively shoved the referee in the back, surely leading to a ban.
Barcelona need to act fast in the transfer market
The Catalans were forced to field Gerard Deulofeu in place of Neymar on the left side of the front three, making it a temporary MSD. There are far worse options to have, but the La Masia product was nowhere near the quality of the Brazilian. Sloppy in possession and with no end product, it’s clear that the position must be a priority until the window closes.
Deulofeu is one of two new arrivals this summer, with Nelson Semedo restricted to a place on the bench as an unused substitute with Aleix Vidal preferred at right-back. With only two weeks left in the transfer window, sporting director Robert Fernandez needs to move quickly.