That we are playing another Premier League team in the Super Cup tonight will only add to the occasion according to Pedro, who knows what it takes to win the competition better than anyone having twice scored the decisive goal to help Barcelona lift the trophy.
In both 2009 and 2015, Pedro was summoned from the bench with the scores level. In the first of those finals, Barca were playing a Shakhtar Donetsk side with Willian in their ranks. It was the then 22-year-old Spaniard who struck the only goal with five minutes of extra-time remaining, exchanging passes with Lionel Messi before cutely finishing into the bottom corner.
He repeated the trick six years later. This time Sevilla were his victims, and goalless it was very much not! In fact Pedro’s winner, again scored in the 115th minute, was the ninth goal of a helter-skelter contest, slammed home from close range after a Messi shot was saved. It was the last of his 99 Barcelona goals as he moved to Stamford Bridge the following week.
‘There’s always going to be that rivalry when you go up against one of the best teams, even more so if they’re from the same country and it’s for a trophy,’ reasoned Pedro ahead of our meeting with Liverpool.
‘So I think the rivalry is going to be very intense, it will be a very tense game and we’re playing for a very important trophy, the European Super Cup.
‘You can only win it if you win the Champions League or the Europa League, so it’s a very strong and important tournament. It gives some continuity to the winner from the previous season, winning it can help you keep doing things well. So I think it’s a significant moment for us, an important trophy, when it comes to assessing ourselves against the best teams and setting out our future.
‘It’s important to start off on the right foot, and Liverpool have a great squad which they showed by winning the Champions League,’ added Pedro.
‘So, if you win that game, it means you’re up there with the best in England, ready to challenge for the Premier League and the Champions League. It’s a very important game for us, it will be a measure of our chances going forward.’
The Europa League was the final piece missing from Pedro’s incredible trophy jigsaw, and his goal in Baku helped us secure silverware against English opposition. We are aiming to do the same tonight, but Pedro knows the Champions League winners will offer us a stern test. He explained Liverpool’s strengths.
‘Their mental resilience is undeniable, and they’re an intelligent team but, in my view, their most significant aspect is how fast they are. They always put a lot of pressure on in order to win the ball back, and they attack incredibly quickly.
In Focus: Liverpool
‘They have two very strong, well-honed weapons. One is the pressure they put on after losing the ball, I think they all apply pressure as a very solid block when they lose the ball, and when they get the ball back, their ability to get the ball forward, with some really quick players. They’re a very difficult team to beat and they showed that last season in the Premier League and the Champions League.
‘We need to read well the game, stay compact all the time, and when we create chances we need to score. We have so much desire to win this trophy. The important thing is the mentality, to stay strong and compact and fight together as a team.’