Game in a sentence

95,000 rabid fans at Camp Nou take in another amazing fixture between the two giants that sees Messi and Ronaldo at their best.

Observations

  • Changes, changes, changes. Without the services of the Piqué and Puyol , Tito Vilanova resorted to a bold pairing of Mascherano and Adriano in central defense. Iniesta returned to the starting lineup after a five game absence. For Mourinho’s men, Khedira and Ozil were given the start over Essien and Modric.
  • It was an unremarkable start to the match, though the lack of size in the Barcelona back four was glaring. Dani Alves was having a horrible time handling the lethal duo of Benzema and Ronaldo – the former should have opened the scoring in the 13th minute after being left completely unmarked in the box. Sergio Ramos nearly connected on a free header minutes later – Real’s height advantage couldn’t be overstated.
  • The aforementioned duo of Benzema and Ronaldo would combine to open the scoring in the 22nd minute. A great turn and pass from the Frenchman put CR7 in alone with Valdes. The end result – a cracking goal – was not surprising though the Barcelona keeper could’ve done better in cutting down the angle. 1-0 for the visitors.
  • Alves made way for u21 Spanish international Martín Montoya soon after. The fact that it wasn’t an injury  substitution speaks to how badly the Brazilian fared early on - Ed’s note: sounds like it was an injury. Madrid should’ve made it 2-0 if Di Maria finds an open net. The floodgates were about to open.
  • Wrong. A clever build up led by Iniesta and Jordi Alba on the right side of the pitch resulted in a dangerous cross into the Madrid box. Pepe made an absolute mess of it, mistiming his jump which allowed Messi to pounce and equalize for the Catalans. 1-1. Game on.
  • After calling everything and anything in the first half, referee Delgado Ferreira decided to let a more free flowing game emerge in the second – thank goodness. Even with this welcome change, every single foul was challenged by both teams with enough histrionics and acting to open up shop at The Globe. Iniesta goes down, Pepe complains and so forth. The football is wonderful to watch but this crap gets incredibly tiring.
  • Thankfully this was a minor footnote in a game that featured the best players in the world doing what they do so very well. After being fouled from behind by Xabi Alonso, the Argentinian wonder man did this:

Messi

  • Not to be outdone Ronaldo deposited his second goal of the game moments later. An excellent through ball from Ozil combined with poor spatial awareness from Adriano was enough for Ronaldo to bask in the hate at Camp Nou. We are incredibly fortunate to watch these men play football.
  • Martin Montoya nearly became the most unlikely hero late, but this was a game destined for a draw. Barcelona drops their first point in their league campaign but maintain an eight point lead over Madrid. Ronaldo > Messi, Messi > Ronaldo. Who cares. Enjoy them while you can.

Three stars

1. Leo Messi

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

3. Mesut Özil