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Off to Wembley! FC Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid (3-1 aggregate)

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Barcelona Advance to the Champions League final 3-1 on aggregate after a stalemate at the Camp Nou. The last of the series of four Classico's started with a totally different tempo that the previous encounters with Real fielding a more attack oriented formation of 4-2-3-1 and being directed by assistant manager, Aitor Karanka. Mourinho was reported to have stayed in his hotel room for this match which will no doubt anger some Madridistas. Barcelona came out with the identical 4-3-3 system that was employed at the Bernabeu.


The first 15 minutes of the first half saw full field play as both Real and Barcelona attacked but failed to produce any meaningful goal scoring chance. It was not until the 20th minute that from a corner, Sergio Busquets was allowed a free header which however, fell right into the hands of Casillas. The action in the half came alive from 30 minutes onward when four rapid attacks from Barcelona peppered Casillas goal. Messi was denied twice, as well as Villa and Pedro. The only meaningful attack from Real in the half came on the 40th minute in which Ronaldo broke from the Barcelona defenders but his pass to Di Maria was collected by Valdes.

 

 

If the previous Classico's had been a disappointment this game had a more free flowing attacking style which many had expected from the first encounter but that unfortunately, was left for the last. With the scores tied, the second half was expected to be the deciding 45 minutes that would see which team was to pass to the final. Real would not doubt have to come out and score to try and keep their champions league dream alive and Barcelona would have to come out and go for security by scoring one of their own.

Perhaps feeling the pressure to reach their first final in nine years, Real upped the tempo at the start of the second half and Higuain had the ball in the back of the net withing two minutes only to have it chalked off by the referee for a foul in attack by Ronaldo. No doubt another call that will be reviewed, both praised and criticized by partisan fans. Pedro opened the score on 54 minutes of the second half after Iniesta played a ball in between Real Madrid's defense. Pedro finished with power and placement to slide it into the bottom corner past Casillas. Real Madrid responded 10 minutes later after Barcelona lost possession outside their own area. Di Maria picked up the loose ball and struct the post only to have the rebound land to his feet which he centered to Marcelo for the tap-in equalizer on 64minutes. Real needed to response with another strike if they had any hope of reaching Wembley but Barcelona's managed possession and were able to see out the tie. 

There-in ends the series of four with two draws, and a loss a-piece, Real taking Copa Del Rey, but Barcelona ultimately take the greatest step forward having La Liga almost guaranteed and now a place in the final at Wembley Stadium. Barcelona now await the results of tomorrows encounter between Manchester United and Schalke to find out whether it will be the re-match of the 2009 final or against newcomers Schalke. 

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