FC Barcelona have done it again. Despite Real Madrid's superior preseason and fitness, Barcelona have won the 11th trophy of the Pep Guardiola era, with a hard-fought Lionel Messi-inspired 3-2 home win over Real Madrid. Not even Marcelo and José Mourinho's frankly shameful antics at the end of the game could ruin Barcelona's deserved celebrations.
And what a debut for Francesc Fabregas: six years at Arsenal, zero trophies; ten minutes at Barcelona, one trophy. Besides, Fabregas was directly involved in Lionel Messi's winning goal, showing why Pep Guardiola was so eager to have him in his squad.
Here are four conclusions from FC Barcelona's Super Cup triumph.
You can follow me on Twitter @Manueltraquete.
Barcelona had a shaky preseason and were far from their best form; players like Alves and Messi hadn't even participated in the preseason. Real Madrid, on the other hand, were firing on all cylinders during the preseason. But despite Real Madrid's superior fitness and preparation, Barcelona still won the Spanish Super Cup, although they were not the better team during the 180 minutes. If they managed to beat the world's second best team while not at full flow, how good will they be when they reach full fitness?
Few would argue that Barcelona are the team to beat in all competitions this season, they're favorites to repeat last season's success.
It's true that Real Madrid were overall the better team during the 180 minutes, but Barcelona have the world's greatest player, Real Madrid don't. As usual, Lionel Messi made all the difference in this tie. Barcelona would definitely not have won this Super Cup without their mercurial superstar.
Despite being far from full fitness (he only started his preseason a week ago, and hadn't played any match prior to the Super Cup), Messi scored three goals and assisted two in this tie (his assist to Iniesta was particularly majestic). It's just ridiculous, almost unfair. Having Messi on the pitch is like using a tank in a knife fight. He's the world's greatest player by a huge margin. Actually, he's probably the greatest player of all-time, at least as far as club football is concerned.
With his three goals, Messi now has 13 Clásico goals, only five behind Di Stefano's record. Would anyone bet against Messi beating this record soon, especially knowing how he likes to torment the likes of José Mourinho and Iker Casillas?
Many questioned the signings of Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez, claiming that Barcelona had spent more than 50 million on two players who would be mere benchwarmers. But while it's true that Cesc and Alexis won't displace the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Villa and Pedro, they will both be much more than just benchwarmers.
These two players are world class talents, they're simply too good to be sitting on the bench for the entire season. Their arrival will allow Pep Guardiola to rotate his midfielders and forwards without any loss of quality, as well as to try some slight tactical changes. Both Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez will get plenty of action this coming season.
Both Alexis and Cesc showed some glimpses of their quality in this Super Cup, Alexis in the first leg and Cesc in the final ten minutes of the second leg, where he was involved in the winning goal. They'll both have an important role to play this season. Besides, they're very young, meaning that they'll have an even more important role in the future.
These were definitely two great signings for the club.
Even for José Mourinho's usual standards, his behavior at the end of the second leg was frankly disgraceful. First, he kicked Cesc Fabregas while he was on ground (see video) and then he eye gouged Barcelona's assistant Tito Vilanova. Finally, in the press conference, he referred to Barcelona's assistant manager as "Pito" Vilanova. For those who aren't aware, in Spanish "pito" is a slang term for the male genital organ.
Any of these offences alone should be enough to warrant a very lengthy ban, let alone the three of them together. It'd frankly be a disgrace if the Spanish FA let Mourinho get away with this unacceptable (to put it nicely) behavior.
In his managing years at Portugal, Mourinho often joked about how he was still not ready to manage Barcelona, which was clearly an ambition of his. Now that he's persona non grata at Camp Nou, he's clearly more bitter than ever. But that's still no excuse, there's such a thing as going too far.
If he's not punished for his antics, Mourinho will stop at nothing to try and beat Barcelona, even if it means dragging Real Madrid's reputation down with him.
Unfortunately, La Liga is a two horse race right now. Barcelona and Real Madrid are by far the two best teams in the world, there's no way any other team in La Liga can keep up for 38 games. In a more competitive league, Barcelona would be huge favorites to win (because they are a better team than Madrid), but the current state of La Liga makes it perfectly conceivable that Real Madrid might win most of their other matches and turn La Liga into an always unpredictable two leg Clásico affair.
Barcelona easily won La Liga last season, but Real Madrid are stronger now, they should drop less points than last season. It will all come down to who drops less points against the bottom 18 (sadly, that's what they are) and of course to the two Clásicos. It should be a very exciting season.
You can follow me on Twitter: