FC Barcelona were clear favourites to win the UEFA Super Cup on 25 August but it was Sevilla FC who were to start the new European season on a high.
FC Barcelona were clear favourites to win the UEFA Super Cup on 25 August; after all the UEFA Champions League winners had finished top in Spain last season, while UEFA Cup holders Sevilla FC were fifth. Indeed the result was decisive - but 3-0 in Sevilla's favour.
It was the third time the trophy had been a 'domestic' affair, both times involving AC Milan; in 1990 they overcame UC Sampdoria but three years later lost to Parma AC. That was in the days of the two-legged contest between the European champions and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup holders, Barcelona and Sevilla were the first to turn Monaco's Stade Louis II into a little corner of their own nation, and the crowd of 17,480 was the biggest for five years.
"It's obviously difficult to come up against another Spanish team because they know us so well," mused Frank Rijkaard before the match, and within seven minutes his fears were realised. Luis Fabiano ran on to a Renato through-ball and Victor Valdés pulled off his third save of the opening exchanges. But this time Renato was on hand to guide in the rebound. Barcelona responded well, but few chances were created. And on the stroke of half-time Frédéric Kanouté headed in Jesús Navas's cross over Valdés after the goalkeeper had punched away the corner.
Barcelona had of course managed a comeback against Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League final three months before. But two goals against a defence as well organised as Sevilla was always going to be a tough task. In fact, the lead was to be extended. Renato had already gone close with a shot on to the outside of the post when, as the game entered injury time Carles Puyol pulled down Antonio Puerta and substitute Enzo Maresca, a double goalscorer in the 4-0 UEFA Cup final defeat of Middlesbrough FC, made no mistake from the penalty spot. Daniel Alves was named man of the match.
"The second goal was the turning point," Rijkaard admitted. "It killed us off and after that we were left with too much to do. They were able to dictate play and play to their system and we weren't. They deserved to win - they played better, tackled stronger, and were solid." Sevilla coach Juande Ramos, whose team became the third Spanish side to lift the trophy after Real Madrid CF and two-time winners Barcelona, concluded: "Everything went just as we had planned."