The UEFA Super Cup 2011, which pits the 2011 UEFA Champions League winners, FC Barcelona, against the 2011 UEFA Europa League victors, FC Porto, takes place at the Stade Louis II, Monaco, on the evening of Friday 26 August 2011.
Both Porto and Barcelona took part in a public training session following Thursday’s UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw, on the evening of Thursday 25 August.
Barca (pictured) looked cool and calm despite the muggy conditions on the Cote D’Azure. Their coolness was doubtless aided by possessing three of the four players voted the best in Europe by journalists across all Federations – Lionel Messi won the inaugural UEFA Best Player in Europe 2010/11 from team-mate Xavi, and Real Madrid’s free-scoring Cristiano Ronaldo. In fourth? The third pillar of Barca’s prowess: Iniesta.
Certainly history is in Barcelona’s favour: one has to go back to a 1985 Champion Clubs’ Cup second leg match to find a meeting between the two clubs which Porto won 3-1 (they went out on away goals after a 3-3 aggegate draw, however).
But these teams have not met in competitive European football since 2000 – when Porto and Barca were in the Group Stage of the UEFA Champions League together – and that was a generation ago. Since then, Barcelona have acquired one of the most enviable squads in the world game, one which continually sweeps all before them.
The summer transfer window would not point to a Porto victory, either, as Barcelona felt the need to prize Arsenal’s captain, Cesc Fabregas back to his boyhood club, just in case their midfield were not already strong enough. Porto, on the other hand, did what Porto do: they sold their biggest asset, in accepting €40 million for striker Falcao. Porto have also repeated another tradition: that of losing an up-and-coming young manager to Chelsea FC, as André Villas-Boas headed to Stamford Bridge during the off-season.
The omens do not point towards success in the Super Cup for the Portuguese, appearing in what will be Barcelona’s world best eighth UEFA Super Cup appearance. Though they have begun their domestic season well, picking up two wins, with goals for their retained striking star, the impressively named Hulk, in each match.
If Barcelona score early, and get their tails up, Porto could be in for a torrid time. That being said, these UEFA Super Cup matches are never played with the ferocity of an ordinary European tie: should Porto prove able to shut out Barca, they possess enough strength going forward to stand a chance of edging this final. The feeling, though, is that if Porto are to win, it will be a hard-fought 1-0.
The UEFA Super Cup 2011 kicks off at 20:45 CET at the Stade Louis II, Monaco, on Friday 26 August 2011.