Barça beat Espanyol 4-2 on penalties to take the first edition of the renamed Supercopa de Catalunya in Girona tonight. The ninety minutes ended at 1-1 after Anaitz Arbilla fired in a brilliant free-kick to equalize Gerard Piqué’s early headed goal. Sandro Ramirez had his shot saved in the penalty shoot-out but Xavi Hernández, Alen Halilovic, Alex Grimaldo and Ivan Rakitic scored theirs to give Barça the victory.
Barça began with nine first team players plus Sergi Samper and Munir El-Haddadi who have both already been given debuts this season. Jordi Masip got his first game in goal for the first team while the defence was formed by Adriano, Piqué, Bartra and Alba. Rafinha, Sergi Samper and Sergi Roberto made up the midfield while Suarez began on the right of attack with Pedro on the left and Munir playing a false nine though the front three would alternate their positions regularly. Espanyol’s team looked weaker on paper with just Arbilla, Salva Sevilla and Alex as regular first-team starters.
Barça’s best period of the game came early on with Luis Suarez looking particularly lively. In the 8th minute the Uruguayan met Sergi Roberto’s cross with a firm header but Espanyol keeper Pau Lopez made a fine diving save. Then in the 15th minute a Barça corner was cleared to Jordi Alba who played a quick forward ball into the area to Suarez who controlled and turned and when everybody expected a shot he scooped a short cross brilliantly to Piqué who headed in easily at the far post.
The remainder of the first half saw Barça comfortably controlling possession but lacking the cutting edge to add to the scoreline. Espanyol had just one chance but it was a good one, Alba failed to stop Victor Alvarez’s charge through the middle but the Espanyol player fired his shot too close to Masip and the young keeper did well to hold on to the ball.
Espanyol made six substitutions at half time while Barça brought on Montoya, Edgar Ié, Adama and Sandro in place of Alba, Piqué, Pedro and Suarez. Adriano switched to left-back while Bartra moved to the right of Ié in central defence but the initial period of the second half quickly swung in favour of Espanyol whose substitutions made them stronger. There was an initial period of pressure from the Periquitos then in the 51st minute Arbilla curled a superb free-kick over the wall and inside the post leaving Masip little chance.
With Espanyol continuing to look the better team Luis Enrique brought on Xavi and Rakitic after an hour to try and regain control. The move worked and Barça ended the game in better shape though Munir couldn’t finish the two best chances. Rakitic drove inches wide near the end but the best chance came after an Espanyol break but Masip leapt spectacularly to push Abraham’s shot away.
Barça’s penalties won the day as Masip saved from Arbilla and Abraham sent his spot-kick wide.
Barça: Masip 7; Adriano 6.5 (Grimaldo m74, 6), Piqué 6.5 (Ié h/t, 6), Bartra 6, Alba 6 (Montoya h/t, 6); Rafinha 6 (Rakitic m61, 6), Sergi Samper 6.5 (Halilovic m76, 6.5), Sergi Roberto 6.5 (Xavi m61, 7); Luis Suárez 7 (Adama h/t, 6), Munir 6, Pedro 6 (Sandro h/t, 6.5).
Espanyol: Pau; Arbilla, Raúl Rguez, Eric, Clerc; Mattioni, Llonch; S. Sevilla, V. Álvarez, Alex; Jairo. (loads of substitutions)
Goals: m15 Piqué 1-0, m51 Arbilla 1-1.
Pens: Xavi (goal) 1-0, Victor Sanchez (goal) 1-1, Sandro (saved) 1-1, Arbilla (saved) 1-1, Halilovic (goal) 2-1, Abraham (missed) 2-1, Grimaldo (goal) 3-1, Jordan (goal) 3-2, Rakitic (goal) 4-2.