Pinto i Nani, a la tanda de penalts. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

In a repeat of the 2009 and 2011 Champions League Finals, Barça enjoyed an excellent pre-season test against Manchester United in Gothenburg tonight, taking the game on penalties after the two teams had drawn 0-0 after 90 minutes. Barça controlled possession and had the majority of the chances, even though United did well to snuff out a lot of Barça’s passing game and actually enjoyed the best chance when Rooney had a penalty saved by Valdes at the end of the first half. That was the first of two penalty saves from Tito’s team, with Pinto saving in the shootout to give Barça another win on penalties following Saturday’s defeat of PSG.

Strong start

The starting line ups showed how seriously both teams were taking this game and Barça began the stronger, dominating possession and employing the advanced pressing game that they have used to such good effect throughout the pre-season. Iniesta, with a delicate shot, and Messi both troubled De Gea within the first five minutes and United were chasing the ball as Barça dominated possession. When the English team did win the ball back, they looked to their wingers and Nani had a good chance with a long range shot that went just wide and was one of the few times the Barça defence looked at all vulnerable.

Valdés foils Rooney

Barça were defending as they most enjoy doing - with the ball at their feet. Led by Leo Messi, they looked dangerous out left where Tello – one of the two Barça B starters alongside Sergi Roberto- looked dangerous, but they lacked the killer instinct in front of goal despite dominating. United looked to have taken advantage of that just before the break, when Tello gave away a penalty, but Victor Valdes saved brilliantly low to his right from Rooney, who then failed to put away the rebound.

Changes at half time

Valdes was one of seven players subbed at the break, as was Messi, but his replacement Pinto showed he was well up to the job, with a great stop from one of United’s big summer signings, Kagawa early on. As often happens in pre-season friendlies, the rhythm of the match dropped somewhat in the second half, but Busquets, Xavi and Cesc continued to control midfield and on 63 minutes, De Gea did well to stop from Alexis after a great pass from Alves. The ex-Atletico Madrid stopper then made another good save from a Pedro header.

Alba debut and Pinto saves another penalty

Soon after, on 66 minutes, Jordi Alba made his debut with the first team, linking up on the left with Afellay and showing great attacking flair and solidity in defence. The World Cup winner lit up what was left of the game, as the large scale substitutions further disrupted the rhythm of the game.

In the end, neither side was able to break the deadlock and it came down to penalties. After Nani had missed with United’s first and Xavi had put his away, Pinto then saved from Young and Pique’s goal handed Barça the ‘SuperMatchen’ trophy.