Supercopa de España: Real Madrid 2-1 FC Barcelona: Match Review

The goal that sent Real Madrid on the way to their third trophy under Jose Mourinho...

FC Barcelona couldn’t secure their first title of the season, as Real Madrid turned around a first-leg deficit to win the Supercopa de España on away goals. Los Blancos raced into an early lead courtesy of Gonzalo Higuain’s composed finish on 11 minutes and doubled their advantage soon after through Cristiano Ronaldo. Adriano saw red for the visitors after bringing down the Portuguese forward and at that point it looked bleak for the Blaugrana. Real Madrid were dominating in every aspect of the game, but the Catalans struck back thanks to Lionel Messi’s world-class free-kick and put up a valiant effort in the second half as they pushed for the equaliser that would have secured them the trophy. Maybe it wasn’t our night, but what would each coach rather have: a five point lead over the other in La Liga after two matches, or a Supercopa trophy?

Real Madrid

Barcelona

Possession

46%

54%

Total Shots

18

10

Shots on Target

7

4

Fouls

16

8

Offsides

3

0

Yellow Cards

4

2

Red Cards

0

1

After an impressive performance in the first-leg at the Camp Nou, Tito Vilanova was forced to make one change to the XI that defeated Real Madrid a week ago with Jordi Alba coming for an injured Dani Alves, meaning that Javier Mascherano, Adriano, Xavi Hernández and Pedro all came straight back into the side after being dropped to the bench for the trip to Osasuna. Real Madrid on the other hand made four changes from the side that lost 3-2 at the Camp Nou, with Pepe, Marcelo, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain replacing Raul Albiol, Fabio Coentrao, Jose Maria Callejon and Karim Benzema. Therefore, Luka Modric had to settle for a place on the bench after finally sealing his move from Tottenham. Would Jose Mourinho come to regret that decision at full-time?

Real Madrid started brightly; pressing high up the field in comparison to last week’s defensive display and it wasn’t long before they created their first chance, as Gonzalo Higuain found a pocket of space in-between the two centre-halves, but Victor Valdés was on hand to deny the Argentine an early goal, a welcome change after his error last week. However, it appears as though Barcelona cannot go a game without a horrendous defensive error of some sort...

Eleven minutes on the clock and Real Madrid got their breakthrough. Javier Mascherano was at fault for trying to, well, I don’t know what he was trying to do. A ball had been played over his head, and whether he tried to control it, or simply tried clear it on the volley, he failed and in doing so, allowed his compatriot Gonzalo Higuain through on goal. With two goals in his opening two league games, Higuain has started the season in blistering form and he made no mistake with his finish, calmly slotting the ball past Victor Valdés to give Los Blancos the aggregate lead on away goals.

However, it wouldn’t stay like that for long, as Barcelona made yet another defensive mistake and this time Cristiano Ronaldo was the one fortunate enough to profit. Yet another simple ball forward, this time the mistake was from Gerard Piqué and Ronaldo still had work to do, but flicking the ball over his shoulder he set himself up nicely and doubled Real’s lead. Maybe Valdés should have done better, but he wouldn’t have had a save to make if Piqué would have defended the situation properly.

And then it somehow got worse. Real Madrid did have a goal ruled out after an infringement in the penalty area, but it was only a brief reprieve as Adriano soon received his marching orders after brining Ronaldo down, and as the last man, the referee had no choice but to brandish a red card. Sami Khedira nearly grabbed a third with a good effort on the volley, but Valdés was in the right place at the right time and made the save. Now with three at the back, Tito Vilanova had to make a change, and he did, replacing Alexis Sanchez with Martin Montoya.

Two goals behind, with one less player, surely Barcelona were out of the game? Madrid continued to create chances, but Barca were slowly but surely gaining a foothold in the match. Admittedly, chances were few and far between with Iniesta’s thumping cross/shot the closest Barcelona got, but then from a seemingly harmless free-kick, the Blaugrana managed to pull one back.

What a way to do it as well. Lionel Messi stepped up and curled in an unstoppable effort from the best part of 30 yards. Iker Casillas was stunned, one can only imagine Cristiano Ronaldo was absolutely livid, but most importantly, Barcelona had a restored sense of faith. It seemed improbable, maybe even impossible, for them to turn around a two-goal deficit at the Bernabeu with one less player; but they were sure as hell going to give it a try.

Neither side made a change in personnel at the break, but Barcelona came out with a far better attitude towards the game and even with one less player they began to dominate possession against their illustrious rivals. However, they needed more than possession, they needed chances and it took them over 15 minutes to force Iker Casillas into a second-half save. In a move similar to the equaliser in last week’s Clasico, Mascherano lifted a pass over the Real Madrid defense and with one immaculate touch, Pedro brought the ball down and with his second he got off a shot on goal. Iker Casillas was equal to the effort, and then denied Pedro again just minutes later after a fantastic run from the Spaniard created enough space for a shot from a very tight angle.

Alex Song was brought on for his Barcelona debut with 15 minutes left, replacing the ineffective Sergio Busquets, and instantly Barcelona created a chance. Lionel Messi, playing deeper than usual lifted a pass over the Real defense to find the run of Jordi Alba, but the ex-Valencia man couldn’t round Casillas to apply the finish. It was promising stuff from Barcelona though, could they get that equaliser?

Unfortunately, it looked more likely that Madrid would extend their lead and the Blaugrana can count themselves lucky that Higuain didn’t do just that, as the Argentine international hit the post after finding acres of space in-between the two Barca centre-halves, again. It should have been the goal that ended the match, but Barcelona were still hanging on in there. Cristian Tello replaced Pedro with under ten minutes left to play, before Jose Mourinho replaced Mesut Ozil to hand Luka Modric his debut. Both sides had chances to score in the final minutes, with Valdés denying Ronaldo his second, and a fantastic block denying Modric a debut goal, but more importantly there was a block on a shot from Tello, a save from Casillas on Montoya’s shot, and a "miss" from Messi. Barcelona nearly stole it, but in the end, Real Madrid were the ones celebrating.

Sure, the Blaugrana were better in the first leg, but ties like these are not won in the first 90 minutes. Instead, ties like this are won and lost in the second-leg, and at the end of the day, Barcelona didn’t do enough to win the first trophy of the season. Next up are Valencia at the Camp Nou; and after two difficult away games, I sure will be happy to see the Camp Nou pitch. Visca el Barca!

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