Are we really complaining about a victory over our heated rivals? Are we disappointed about the result? Did we deserve more? The answer to all of these question is yes, at least in my case.
If we had been asked before the game if we would accept a 3-2 victory most of Barcelona fans would accept it because a win is a win and all Barça would need from the Santiago Bernabeu is a draw. Real Madrid fans would also probably accept the result because it's a one-goal loss and you scored the all important away goal.
But now that the game has ended (and we had some time to think about it) you can't help but to think that Barcelona deserved more. In a matter of seconds it went from nearly being 4-1 to actually being 3-2. Real played (just) good enough to not deserve to lose 4-1 but 3-2 is also not a just result.
Barcelona outplayed the visitors from Madrid in most facets of the game but in the two areas where Madrid was better they made Barça pay. The first is in the air game where Real won most of the duels and scored a goal. With Gerard Pique occupied with Real's best aerial threat, Sergio Ramos, and Carles Puyol on the bench Sergio Busquets was forced to cover Cristiano Ronaldo. My concerns over Busquets' heading ability have been voiced before, most recently in his season review, but not only did he lose the duel he was also beaten to the ball - something you rarely see happen to Busquets.
The second area in which Real were better is goalkeeping. Iker Casillas made three saves, including a pair of outstanding ones, while Victor Valdes ended the night with zero.
Reading reactions on the internet I was very surprised how many said Adriano Correia was as much to blame for the goal as Valdes was - something I couldn't agree less with. Adriano made a good play to take the ball away and played a perfectly good pass to Valdes. The pass was to Valdes' left because defenders prefer not to pass inside the frame of the goal, which in this case would've been to Valdes' preferred right foot, because so many things can go wrong. But Valdes had that whole going wrong thing covered on his own. He had three Blaugrana players open up the middle (and therefore right in front of him) but he didn't pass the ball and decided to dribble past Angel Di Maria. Valdes is no Jose Pinto when it comes to dribbling.
Ever since his debut a decade ago Valdes has been a accident waiting to happen but year after year there were less of these blunders with his best season coming in 2010/11. Last season you could slowly see him taking steps backwards with games against Chelsea and Real Madrid particularly standing out.
Hopefully this second goal allowed is a "blessing in disguise" and it turns out to be the way Gerard Pique said and forces the team to be more focused at the Santiago Bernabeu. With the 3-1 lead you could see Barça playing it safe in Madrid but with a half goal advantage Tito Vilanova and the team won't have a choice but to play the only way they know - to attack.
In an effort to make this post sound less depressing let's talk about some positives as well. Andres Iniesta started the game misplacing an inordinate number of passes but toward the end of the game he was one of the best performers (if not the best). His dribbling was simply sublime while his passing wasn't lacking far behind as evidenced by the assist to Xavi.
One of the most impressive (and encouraging) players was also Pique who was a factor both on offense and defense. This was probably Pique's best 90 minute performance since the 2010/11 season and if this is a sign of things to come you can't help but to be optimistic about this season. With Dani Alves involved so much in offense Pique was often one-on-one with Ronaldo but he handled the Portuguese very well. Pique also made some impressive runs forwards, including one where he appeared like a wrecking ball with Madrid players bouncing off him.
Considering this was supposed to be a short article I think this will be enough for today from me. But just to make short conclusion the winner of this trophy really should've been decided yesterday. Even with the 3-1 scoreline Real would have to have win by two goals on Wednesday and they would have to hold Barça scoreless. A tall task even for a powerhouse like Real Madrid. Now it's anybody's trophy.