It is not only about football, at least not anymore
Real Madrid lost 3-2 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate to eternal rivals Barcelona, ergo the Supercopa de España. Lionel Messi, as always, was the chief architect behind the Catalan success scoring two goals out of almost nothing, the second coming in the dying moments of the game, all this after setting up Andrés Iniesta for the first. Real came twice from behind through Cristiano and Benzema respectively but were unable to grab the third goal that would have turned the tie towards the better team on the night with barely anytime left. The match ended on a bitter note with two of our players sent off in Mesut Özil (who was not on the pitch at the time) and Marcelo (for a tackle on new boy Cesc Fàbregas). David Villa, who too was on the bench, was sent of as well with the game ending in a melee.
José Mourinho decided to field the same line up that lost 5-0 here in La Liga last season but for one change. New signing Coentrão started at left back, replacing Marcelo. Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, made a host of changes to his side as Xavi, Busquets, Pedro and Pique replaced Thiago, Keita, Aléxis Sánchez and Adriano from the first leg, thereby reverting back to his best starting XI available. Cesc Fàbregas was on the bench. The initial stages of the game saw both teams share equal possession and the ball sticking within 25 yards of either side of the half way line. Neither team was able to break through the opposite defense when Messi sublimely put Andrés Iniesta through on goal 1v1 with Casillas. The midfielder chipped in the ball to give Barça a 1-0 lead. Real now had to score two. But that would change within 5 minutes. Mesut Özil swung in a corner from the right which ultimately fell to Karim Benzema on the far post. The on-song Frenchman squeezed in a ball through a crowded area which was tucked into goal by Cristiano Ronaldo. There were doubts about Ronaldo being offside but replays acquitted him of such claims. It was CR7’s 100th goal for Real Madrid and his first at the Nou Camp. But for the goal and a shot that Valdes could only deflect on to the crossbar, the overall performance of Ronaldo last night was below par. He was trying too hard to flatter the Catalan crowd with his dazzling step overs only to hinder the attack of his own team. Real had the better chances of the game throughout the night but Lionel Messi was more efficient. Just before half time the little Argentine played a clever one-two with the demented Gerard Piqué to beat Iker Casillas yet again and give Barça the lead after 45 minutes of play. Messi was simply sublime last night one has to admit. Every run of his troubled our defense. One other sight which worried me especially was Coentrão’s defensive credibilities. The Portuguese at left-back was totally out of sorts and was found AWOL most of the times. Fortunately, since it was Pedro who played on the right, Barça failed to capitalize.
The second half began in similar fashion with Barça unable to play their normal tiki-taka thanks to the incredible pressure that they were under. Marcelo replaced Khedira and Coentrão moved to midfield alongside Xabi Alonso. Unlike previous encounters Madrid was not rough on them but made sure that the pressure they applied on those Catalans was immense. Xavi of all people stuttered. Piqué, Abidal, Alves were all forced to clear the ball and thus were taken out of possession. Messi hardly saw the ball. Madrid were better than any side that has ever faced this team. Özil almost pegged us level when he was put through with only Valdes to beat. The German tested the keeper but definitely should have done better. I felt there was too little sting in the shot. The game crossed the 80th minute mark. Kaká and Higuaín had come on for Özil and an out-of-sort Angel Di María. It was the Brazilian’s corner that ultimately fell to Karim Benzema through Pepe and Real were back on level terms and the match was going into extra time. Barça panicked. The fans were silent as Cesc Fàbregas came on to make his debut. Just two minutes was left for normal time to end. Fàbregas played Adriano through on the left and his cross was volleyed in by Lionel Messi to hand Barcelona the lead and an inevitable victory. The volley was too good even for someone like St. Iker.
The game ended but match didn’t end there. Marcelo made a completely unnecessary challenge on new boy Cesc which the catalans made too much out of. This invoked the Catalans and finally the inevitable brawl began. Marcelo was sent off but so were Özil, who was completely furious about some incident, and David Villa were sent off. Mourinho too was involved having a go at Tito Villanova in his usually cheeky manner capping off what has been one of the best two legged games that I have ever seen.
This defeat, as sour as it is, definitely is a sign of improvement. We were the better team over two legs and if we had been a little more efficient in front of goal we would have definitely walked out winners. The rivalry between the two sides is turning out be more bitter than ever. Piqué has had a few harsh words to say about José. The latter belittled the Supercopa by calling it a tiny little trophy. Its no longer only about football and that’s what is making this whole affair even more special.
Para Siempre Blanco!