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Supercopa de España: FC Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid: Match Review

I'll take you all on if I have to!
I'll take you all on if I have to!

FC Barcelona will take a slender lead to the Santiago Bernabeu next week when they contest the second leg of this Supercopa final, but after dominating the majority of the game, the 3-2 scoreline is a little disappointing. The first half passed by without any real chances of note, with the Blaugrana dominating proceedings, but it was Real Madrid who took the lead on 54 minutes through a Cristiano Ronaldo header after poor defensive work from Sergio Busquets. Barcelona equalised almost instantly courtesy of a clinical finish from Pedro before a penalty from Lionel Messi and a composed finish from Xavi looked to have sealed a comfortable win. However, after Iker Casillas denied Lionel Messi his second of the evening, Real Madrid managed to pull one back after a horrendous error from Victor Valdés gifted Angel Di Maria the easiest goal of his career. The performance and the result are encouraging, but thanks to Valdés, Barcelona still have a lot to do if they wish to retain their Spanish Supercopa title.


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Tito Vilanova surprised a few with his team selection, as he opted for Adriano Correia at left-back and left Carles Puyol on the bench. Cristian Tello and Cesc Fàbregas were dropped to the bench following the weekend win over Real Sociedad, and from a Real Madrid perspective, Jose Mourinho went for Fabio Coentrao at left-back with Lassana Diarra, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria dropped to the bench in the aftermath of the 1-1 draw with Valencia.

The match started slowly with Real Madrid happy to allow Barcelona all the possession in the world, so long as they weren’t threatening Iker Casillas’ goal. Real nearly created the first chance of the night on a trademark counter-attack, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s through ball was cut out well by Gerard Piqué before it could reach Karim Benzema. Barcelona though were gradually settling into the match and could have scored the opener on 14 minutes as Andrés Iniesta was played through on the left-wing after an excellent through-ball split the Madrid defense. Iniesta tried to square the ball but his he was lacking his usual pinpoint accuracy and the chance went begging.

Barcelona should have also taken the lead on the 18 minute mark as a cut-back from Dani Alves found Lionel Messi in space in the Real Madrid area, but the Argentine uncharacteristically couldn’t get his shot on target. That being said, Messi still looked the most dangerous of all the 22 players on the field. Slowly but surely, Barcelona’s vice-like grip on the match was getting tighter. Real were having less and less possession, Barca were creating more and more chances and aside from some wayward shooting from none other than Lionel Messi, they would have been ahead. Pedro tested Iker Casillas from long-range with a vicious, dipping effort before Xavi sent another long-range attempt over the bar and out of play for a goal-kick. Credit to Real Madrid though, even with a "makeshift" backline, they were defending superbly.

In truth, that was all of the "chances" in a first-half characterised by Blaugrana possession and niggling fouls. Heading into the half-time break, Real Madrid were yet to manage a single shot against the Blaugrana for what must have been the first time in years.

The second half also started slowly. Neither side made a change at the break, and but for one penalty shout after Raul Albiol appeared to tangle with Alexis Sanchez, the first eight minutes of the half passed without any real note. After that, the game just burst into life.

After going nigh-on an hour without a shot on goal, Real Madrid finally created a chance, and with that chance, they took the lead. Mesut Ozil’s corner was well-taken, Ronaldo’s run was precise, and Busquets "challenge" was almost non-existent; powering a header into the corner of the net, Cristiano Ronaldo gave Real Madrid the lead. 54 minutes on the clock and Barcelona needed to find a goal.

As it turned out, that wasn’t going to be a problem. Javier Mascherano split the Madrid defense with a pinpoint long pass that picked out the run of Pedro. Behind the Real Madrid defense, Pedro did what Pedro does best, clinically picking out the far corner of Iker Casillas’ net to tie the game at 1-1. A huge goal from a big-game player; just moments after going behind, Barcelona were right back in the game.

Dani Alves nearly put the Blaugrana ahead with a low shot, before Jose Mourinho made his first substitutions of the evening. Callejon and Benzema were off, replaced by Di Maria and Higuain, but once again, it was the defense that was the problem. Iniesta was the one causing the problems this time round, and after Sergio Ramos caught his standing leg, the referee had no choice but to point to the spot and award Barcelona a penalty. It was a clear foul – much more clear-cut than either of the other two appeals – and up stepped Lionel Messi to send Iker Casillas the wrong way and put his team ahead. Now ahead, Tito made his first change of the night with Cristian Tello replacing Alexis Sanchez, sporting a new haircut!

Unfortunately for Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho, Barcelona were not done yet. Andrés Iniesta was improving further with every passing second and after skipping past the challenge of one defender, he slipped his good friend and midfield colleague Xavi through on goal. Last season was Xavi’s best season in terms of goals scored and it appears as though he is going to continue in that vein judging by his ice-cool finish that extended the Barcelona lead to two goals. Real Madrid were on the ropes; Marcelo was brought on for Mesut Ozil, while Barcelona replaced the latest goal-scorer Xavi with Cesc Fàbregas.

Lionel Messi came desparately close to extending his tally afte yet another sumptuous pass from Andrés Iniesta, but was denied by a world-class save from Iker Casillas. Piqué came close to the rebound, but Real Madrid cleared their lines and were on the counter. While the counter didn’t come to anything, Real Madrid were suddenly back in the game as Victor Valdés made the mistake of thinking he was Lionel Messi. The back-pass from Adriano was below-average, but that’s no excuse. Valdés took a touch – which would have been fine, until he took another, and he wasn’t allowed the chance to take another as Di Maria nicked the ball away from the Catalan and passed the ball into an empty net. From total domination to anxiety all in a matter of seconds.

Jordi Alba came on soon after to replace Pedro in what was the final change of the match as Vilanova looked to see out the remaining time without any further mistakes and they did just that, but one can’t help but feel frustrated after Valdés’ moment of idiocy.

On a brighter note, a hearty congratulations to FCB.HKHME for correctly predicting the final score in our earlier poll!

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