Real Madrid used the away goals scored at Camp Nou to full effect to lift the SuperCopa and end Barcelona’s historic attempt of winning it for the fourth time in a row. Goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo in the first twenty minutes of exciting action ensured we were up 2-0 before Messi scored for Barcelona to make it 2-1 on the night and 4-4 on aggregate. That Angel di Maria goal or that error by Victor Valdes proved to be the difference maker in the end.
Real Madrid started with no surprises in the lineup, meaning no Lassana Diarra. Pepe having recovered from his head injury was fit and available for selection. He paired with the expected defense in Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa and Marcelo. Coentrao was earlier suspended for four games for swearing at the referee in the loss to Getafe.
Further ahead, Xabi Alonso paired with Sami Khedira to provide defensive cover. In attack, Ozil and Di Maria were the attacking midfielders with Cristiano and Higuain the strikers.
The bench did spring up a surprise with new signing Luka Modric included on the bench and there was no place for Granero, Kaka or Varane. Granero and Kaka both have been linked out of the club.
Real Madrid’s chances were boosted slightly with Dani Alves picking up an injury during warm up meaning Jordi Alba was brought into the starting XI and Montoya was added to the bench.
Higuain had the first chance of the game in the seventh minute when he was fed by Marcelo but the Argentine failed to convert a one-on-one opportunity as Victor Valdes saved with his feet.
Pipita didn’t take long to make amends. In the 11th minute, Pepe hoofed the ball forward with no real attempt at a pass. Mascherano misjudged it and didn’t clear the ball which allowed Higuain to latch on to the ball and put Real Madrid ahead on the night and equal on aggregate scores.
Eight minutes later, it was Cristiano’s turn to score and end his run of poor form in the new season. He beat Pique with a wonderful flick over the Spaniard’s head. Cristiano then went on to control the ball and shoot past Victor Valdes. Valdes could have done better as the ball went between his legs and wasn’t hit with as much speed as Cristiano would have liked but it did the job. Real Madrid now led 2-0 and were in pulsating form.
A few minutes later, Pepe had a goal disallowed for a foul. Upon seeing the TV replays it was the correct decision from the referee as Pepe had pushed Mascherano twice to take an advantage. If that goal had been legitimate, Bernabeu would have erupted in celebration.
Barcelona’s night became harder when Adriano was sent off for grabbing Cristiano from behind and unluckily for Adriano, he was the last man and was given the marching orders despite his protests.
In the 32nd minute, Higuain had the opportunity to extend the advantage after Cristiano provided him with a perfectly weighted ball but the Argentine took too long to take a shot which allowed Mascherano to stick a leg out and only get a corner from the move. A brilliant counterattacking move which has become a Real Madrid trademark since last year.
Near the half time mark, Messi brought Barcelona back into the game with his gorgeous free kick. His left footed free kick curled around the wall and into the corner beyond Iker Casillas’ reach. Worst time to concede a goal and give away advantage.
Cristiano almost restored the two goal lead with a right footed shot which went just wide. Had it been on target, it would have been impossible for Valdes to have saved that. Unfortunately it wasn’t and at HT it was 2-1 to us and 4-4 on aggregate.
Mourinho’s second half strategy was for the team to keep the ball and maintain possession. Allowing Barcelona less chances to move forward and there was fantastic man marking of Iniesta and Messi. However this idea of not emulating the first half onslaught wasn’t the best idea given our defence’s ability to get caught out on multiple occasions. Mascherano played a superb ball over the top for Pedro and the latter controlled the ball effortlessly to get past the defence. Casillas was on top of his game yet again to keep us in the game and secure our lead.
Pedro was again the instigator of another Barcelona attack as he went around Ramos with much ease and made his way inside the box to get a shot on goal but for Casillas to save it with ease.
Khedira, the last person you would have to get past defenders with ease did so in the latter stages of the second half but for his shot from outside the right foot to be punched away by Victor Valdes.
Before being subbed of, Higuain had another opportunity to score and extend the advantage but his shot took a slight knick off a Barcelona leg and came off the post for a corner. It was becoming increasingly difficult to understand how we weren’t leading by a bigger margin already. Higuain, while a very prolific scorer, has to do something about his conversion rate.
Late on, Messi almost scored from near the edge of the box but for his shot to sail just wide as the second ticked on and Casillas stood no chance of saving that one, had it gone in.
Modric made his debut for the club by playing 7 minutes after replacing Mesut Ozil. He had a pass accuracy of a 100% and got a shot on target after Benzema played him a ball from inside the box. The Croatian looked confident even though he has had very little training time with his teammates and didn’t play with Spurs in the league.
A fantastic win for the club but on grand scheme of things, this momentum needs to become visible in La Liga as well and hopefully this game will prove to be the turning point needed. HALA MADRID!