Once again Lionel Messi’s immense quality shines through in a matchup between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.  In a match that had its fair share of ugliness, Messi rose above the turmoil and earned his team a victory with beautiful passing and equally beautiful finishing.  The match was a testy affair from the opening whistle and saw Mourinho’s Madrid finish the day with a total of six yellow cards and two red cards. 

The tone was set from the opening minutes when both teams earned fouls for hard challenges from Sami Khedira and David Vila.  The early going was in favor of Madrid who registered several good chances, forcing saves from Victor Valdes. However the match’s first goal would go to Barcelona scored by Andreas Iniesta on a fantastically played through ball from Lionel Messi that left the Real Madrid defense carved open.  After Iniesta calmly lifted the ball over Iker Casillas to make the score 1-0 the match would really begin to heat up.

Just five minutes after Iniesta’s opener, Real Madrid would strike back.  A long corner fell to Karim Benzema who fired it across the box and after deflecting off of Dani Alves found the foot of Cristiano Ronaldo.  Ronaldo calmly flicked the ball past Victor Valdes to level the score after being played onside by Eric Abidal, who was quite impressive otherwise.  Just a minute later a ball found Pedro streaking down the left side and after a cut inside around Fabio Coentrao to lift a shot that looked destined for the back of the net, only to see it punched over the bar by Iker Casillas.  A few minutes later Cristiano Ronaldo found himself space with the ball on the edge of the box and fired a fierce shot that was deflected onto the bar by Valdes.  Valdes was called upon again minutes later when he pushed a shot from Mesut Ozil wide.  The end to end action continued when Casillas was forced to make a save on Messi who had found space between Madrid’s defenders. 

Then just before halftime the moment came that broke the deadlock and possibly caused a stroke for Ray Hudson.  Lionel Messi chested a ball at the edge of the box to Gerard Pique who returned the pass with a magical backheel onto the waiting laces of Lionel Messi, who lifted the ball over the sprawling Casillas to give Barcelona the 2-1 lead.  It was an absolutely stunning goal that has to be seen.

After halftime both sides settled in and it led to a many tight clashes with yellow cards being given to both sides.  Ronaldo was booked as was Javier Mascherano and the newly entered Marcelo who replaced Sami Khedira who had earlier picked up a yellow.  Pepe was finally booked in the 62nd minute for obstructing Messi who would force Casillas to save a low shot on the near post after a great run of play by Andreas Iniesta who weaved his way through the defense.  Tensions continued to grow as Gonzalo Higuain was brought on for Angel di Maria and Adriano replaced David Villa.  Adriano’s entrance to play would see him tormented as he was repeatedly brutalized by Madrid’s defenders. 

Madrid’s equalizer would eventually come in the 82nd minute as a poorly taken corner from Kaka bounced to Benzema.  The Frenchman’s initial effort was turned away, but received a return from a Pepe header and put it past Valdes.  The goal was unquestionably sloppy, but Madrid’s play for the majority of the second half had been bruising, yet effective defending, and the goal seemed fitting for the occasion. 

Cesc Fabregas would make his debut, replacing Pedro just after the goal and it was his pass that began the run of play to the brilliant Messi finish that would win the day for the Catalan side.  Fabregas played the ball to Adriano who fired in a pinpoint cross to the streaking Messi who met the ball with a left footed strike past Casillas.  It was another stunning goal scored by the Ballon d’Or winner and it truly lived up to the match that had preceded it.

Despite seeing their side go down, Madrid was not done fighting.  Marcelo met the newly arrived Cesc Fabregas on the touchline with a two footed tackle that hacked the Spaniard down at the knees.  He received a straight red card for his efforts, but the scrum between the two clubs had formed with tempers flaring on both sides.  Mesut Ozil appeared to be slapped at some point and had to be restrained by teammates, staff members, and even Adriano before being shown the red card along with possibly slap culprit David Villa.  However the most shocking moment of the melee came from Jose Mourinho, who tugged the cheek of Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova.  Mourinho received a push for his troubled, but his pursed lipped visage shown to Barcelona conveyed the feeling that it was Mourinho that had won the day.

After the tempers had cooled and play was briefly resumed, the final whistle was blown and Barcelona had won their first silverware of the campaign.  In just one match Cesc Fabregas had earned more trophies with Barcelona than during his entire stint with Arsenal.  Afterwards Mourinho dismissed the Barcelona victory as a “tiny little title”, but the actions of his players on the field displayed that the competition held some importance between the two squads.  The Spanish Super Cup exceeded all expectations for this writer and it was a fantastic tie to watch.  All of the major highlights can be seen here: http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/barcelona-real-madrid-extended-highlights-15236396/

Jose Mourinho’s cheek tug and Marcelo’s horror tackle can be seen below:

Elsewhere:

Demands have been made for the return of John Obi Mikel’s father who was kidnapped last week in Mikel’s native Nigeria.  It was reported that the kidnappers had demanded £80,000 for the return, but this has been dismissed and new reports state that “sizable” ransom demand was made, but cannot be released for security purposes.  Mikel has again made himself available to play this weekend. Once again I hope this situation is peacefully resolved soon.

Chelsea has opened negotiations with manager Villas-Boas former club Porto for Joao Moutinho and Alvaro Pereira.  The club has also had an offer rejected by Valencia for Juan Mata, another bid is expected in the coming days.

Romelu Lukaku’s transfer to Chelsea has finally been completed.

Hull City has released their record signing Jimmy Bullard after placing him on suspension during pre-season.  Rumors have Jimmy Bullard showing up to training still drunk, wearing his club outfit from the night before.  WHAT A LEGEND!

Spurs have been linked to Emmanuel Adebayor, Lassana Diarra, and Scott Parker, possibly preparing to sell Luka Modric to Chelsea.  QPR have also been linked to Parker, having made a £4 million offer last night.

The Sun has reported that Liverpool has made a £10 million plus David Ngog and Raheem Sterling in exchange for Bolton’s Gary Cahill.  Arsenal is also rumored to be interested in the player, but we all know Wenger never signs anybody.

It appears that Samuel Eto’o’s move to Anzhi Makhachkala has stalled as Inter want more money for the 30 year old striker.

Blackburn, Everton, and QPR have made bids for Nedum Onuoha, while West Brom only expressed interest.

Tony Pulis says that Ryan Shawcross isn’t going anywhere.

Other rumors have Balotelli being loaned to AC Milan, Kaka returning to AC Milan, and negotiations between Man City and Inter over Carlos Tevez breaking down in favor of them signing Diego Forlan for considerably less.