Barcelona dominate much of the game, but head to Madrid with just a one goal lead thanks to a horrendous mistake by keeper Victor Valdes.
- An El Clasico without Ray Hudson or Pepe didn’t feel right, but we trudged forward. Aside from the Portuguese defender and Carlos Puyol, the stars were all in attendance for the first leg of the Supercopa at Camp Nou. In Pepe’s place was Raul Albiol. Both sides employed a 4-3-3, though Madrid’s formation in the first half resembled that of a LSD enhanced rave as they scrambled to contain Barcelona’s attack.
- Possession numbers don’t often tell the tale when it comes to Barcelona – they’re on the ball more often than not. That was the case for much of the first half after a tentative beginning from both sides. The Catalans controlled the ball for a 70% possession rate and directed nine shots at Iker Casillas compared to just one for Madrid.
- He’s been described by many greater writer’s than myself – and gushing about him does get old – but the speed in which Leo Messi attacks two or three defenders (it’s never just one) with is remarkable. The term fearless is apt, the guy is a machine.
- Though Messi showed flashes – he had the best chance of the half in the 22nd minute, a clear shot on goal inside the box - Dani Alves was immense, dominating the wing and forcing Fabio Conentrao into almost constant retreat.
- This match-up is regarded with scorn by some – it’s always these two, gah – but for me, seeing Spanish national team players up against one another is always fun. Sergio Busquets was the subject of three strong (and illegal) challenges from countrymen Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa. How’s it feel, Sergio!
- Invisible for much of the first half, Mesut Ozil and Ronaldo combined to give Madrid the lead in the 55th minute. An Ozil corner found the head of CR7, who put it past a helpless Valdes. Perhaps more impressive was the military strength laser pointer directed at Ronaldo during the goal celebration.
- Barcelona responded to adversity in 30 seconds. Literally. Javier Mascherano played a ball into Pedro on the right flank – the forward’s run was exquisite – who then sprinted past his marker and tucked the ball into the net. Camp Nou exploded – this was the game we were hoping for.
- Barcelona kept coming forward. Alves and Messi combined on an excellent one-two that forced Casillas to make a difficult save. Seven minutes later Andres Iniesta made a probing run into box, chased by Sergio Ramos. Iniesta’s quick cut back was met by a Ramos take down. Was it a blatant penalty? Yes, Ramos had no business making that challenge and paid for his reckless defending. Messi scored the ensuing penalty to give Barcelona a 2-1 lead with twenty minutes remaining.
- Iniesta – the man of the match – provided the dagger in the 78th minute. The diminutive midfielder waltzed into the attacking zone and provided a perfect through ball to a charging Xavi. 3-1. Words can’t do this one justice. Simply beautiful. The Madrid defense was exposed time and time again by the trademark Barcelona runs that must keep Jose Mourinho up at night.
- It was all going so well for the home side until Victor Valdes went and ruined it. The keeper made a horrible first touch off a back pass that Angel Di María capitalized of off to nab a crucial away goal. 3-2. The goal is huge for a side that was thoroughly dominated for most of the match. They’ll head back to the Bernabeu with victory fully within reach.
1. Andres Iniesta
2. Dani Alves
3. Leo Messi