Sunday in Saudi Arabia, Barcelona easily defeated Real Madrid 3-1 to claim the Spanish Super Cup, their first victory under head coach Xavi Hernandez. The Catalans put up one of their best displays in years against their fierce Clasico opponents, Gavi, a young player who scored himself and assisted goals for Robert Lewandowski and Pedri Gonzalez.
Xavi left Barca in November 2021 after enjoying great success as a player there. After a summer of lavish investment, this convincing victory is a sign that his project is headed in the right direction.
For Madrid, who have not played at their best since the World Cup break and who last weekend slipped three points behind Barcelona in La Liga, Karim Benzema scored a late consolation goal.
Los Blancos gave up the trophy they won last year to Barcelona, who have now won the Super Cup a record 14 times. Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti experienced his first loss in a final since 2014.
With Gavi sliding inside from his official starting position on the left and repeatedly letting Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal slide, Xavi strategically fielded four central midfielders.
Due to Aurelien Tchouameni’s injury, Toni Kroos filled in as Madrid’s deepest midfielder. However, Pedri, who was ably supported by Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets, quickly outpaced him.
Lewandowski was denied by a great early stop from Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was outstanding in his team’s semi-final triumph over Valencia on Wednesday. Courtois tipped Lewandowski’s low shot against the post and out. At the other end, after finding space in the area to receive Ferland Mendy’s tempting cross, Benzema nearly missed the goal with his header.
Busquets regained the ball high up the field after an errant pass from Antonio Rudiger, and Lewandowski then fed Gavi, who easily slid the ball home with his left foot.
Before Lewandowski set up the 18-year-old, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele exchanged quick passes and the latter’s deft run went unnoticed. For the second goal, Gavi switched roles, catching De Jong’s pass and slipping the ball across the goal for Lewandowski to finish expertly.
The highlight of Xavi’s time at Barcelona up until this point had been the Catalans’ 4-0 victory over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu previous season, which was brought back by the team’s dominance.