The greatest rivalry in football took center stage again contending the first trophy available on the Spanish football calender, the Spanish Supercup. The English equivalent The Charity Shield is generally viewed as a write off, at most an extra pre season game with an opportunity to boost morale and get something shiny before heading into the slog of the season. When Barcelona and Real Madrid are involved a mug saying “Worlds best team” is as hotly contested as the Champions League and this two legged exhibition was no different. Much as been made of Madrid’s sluggish start to the season only picking one point from two games including throwing away a lead in a 2-1 defeat to Getafe, Barcelona emphatically beat Sociedad 5-1 but only two late goals from Messi spared their blushes against a defiant Osasuna side at the weekend. The first leg ended 3-2 in Barcelona’s favour with a frantic second half providing the entertainment, it didn’t take long for the second leg to follow suite.
It took only two minutes for a through ball from Marcelo to put Higuain clean through but the Argentine’s shot was saved by Valdes. He didn’t have to wait long however for his next attempt as a long ball from Pepe beat out Mascherano who horribly mistimed his attempt and left Higuain one on one with all the time in the world to slot by Valdes. The frustrated Mascherano than picked up a yellow shortly after, the first of many as to be expected in an El Clasico. It was Madrid who kept pressing and Marcelo came close with a shot from the edge of the box as Barcelona failed to get into the game. Madrid’s pressure paid off when another long ball this time from Khedira found Ronaldo who flicked it over both his and Piques heads leaving him with plenty of time on the edge of the box to fire in Madrid’s second. Madrid didn’t stop and continued to harrass and pressure Barcelona and Higuain could of had another when he found himself one on one again only to fire wide. Things got worse for Barcelona when Adriano dragged down Ronaldo and saw red. This led to the introduction of Montoya for Alexis, but all hope seemed lost for Barcelona as Madrid continued to play their game and Barcelona could barely get going. That was until a bit of Messi magic right before half time got them back into the game. His 30 yard free kick bent around the wall and into the back of the net, stunning Madrid and getting Barcelona back into the tie.
The second half began cagey as Madrid allowed 10 man Barcelona play sideways in typical Mourinho fashion. It wasn’t until a long ball from Mascherano sprung Pedro whose delightful first touch followed by a powerful volley was saved by Casillas. Pedro had been Barcelona’s busiest and most threatening player as they struggled for an outlet for their possession. The sight of newboy Modric warming up got the crowd going as they were anxious to see their latest acquisition in action. Khedira with an uncharacteristic dribble through the Barcelona defence nearly restored Madrid’s two goal advantage but Valdes was equal to his effort. Alex Song made his anticipated debut for Barcelona at the 74th minute as Barcelona pushed for a goal, surprisingly Fabergas and Villa remained on the bench. Only a last ditch challenge from Ramos denied Barcelona an equalizer after Alba’s burst of pace found himself beyond the defence and around Casillas. There was a similar scene at the other end when Higuain seemed suprise to find himself clean through only for Mascherano to poke the ball away and onto the post. Modric came into the game at the 82nd minute and looked comfortable knocking the ball around with his new team mates as they tried to hold down the fort against Barcelona’s mounting pressure for an equaliser. His debut was nearly made perfect when he dispossessed Iniesta setting up a move which culminated in his effort on the edge of the box been saved again by Valdes. Injury time was tense at the Bernabeu with Montoya’s effort drawing a save from Casillias. Right at the death Messi had a shot from outside the box with which fell wide, and with that Barcelona’s late resurgence ended and shortly after so did the game.
While there will be bigger fish to fry for both teams throughout the season, Madrid and Mourinho will feel they have gained a key psychological advantage over Barcelona with this victory. Tito Vilanova’s has failed his first true test but the season is long and these two will meet at least twice more before it ends.
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