It was the clash of the titans. And boy did it live up to it’s billing. It’s been a while since I watched a match of such high intensity. Both teams brought their A-game, but alas! it was the Blaugrana that prevailed. From the word go Barca tried to take control of the game, once on the ball, they did what they do best – kept possession
But Real was sharp on the counter attack and created more chances in the first half. It took a world-class (yes, world class for a keeper that will probably never wear his national shirt) save from Valdes to keep the ball out of Barca’s net. At half time nothing separated the teams.
The second half saw Pep bring on Ibra for an off colour Henry, and that did the trick. The Swede netted in the only goal of the match in his Clasico debut. With a couple people picking up yellow cards, it was a matter of time till one of them got their marching orders. Busquets was the culprit. I felt that he was always the weak link on the team. Pep did not look pleased, I’m sure the youngster will get an earful.
Even with 10 players, Barca dominated. They ran at the Madrid defense and generally created havoc.
From a Real Madrid point of view, I feel they played the best they have all season, and I’m sure that they will only improve. It wasn’t like they were walked all over, they created many chances but that Barca defense was too strong to penetrate (I’ll get to that later). Ronaldo tried to work his magic, but he was well dealt with. Kaka is just not the player he used to be at Milan. He looked slower and didn’t pose a threat to the Barca defense.
Pellegrini made some questionable decisions, the first was taking off Ronaldo for Benzema. Now I understand that he’s not fully fit etc, but Madrid just lost it a bit after he was subbed. The next was bringing on Raul for Arbeloa. This was just plain stupid. Barca was attacking from all sides, and he risked weakening their defense. He was lucky that Barca did not punish them with a few more goals (Messi & Pique both missed great chances). For Madrid, the weak link was Marcelo, he didn’t do anything right and he should’ve been subbed in the early stages of the 2nd half.
Every single Barca player came to the party (maybe not Busquets) Everyone just gave that little bit extra. It was truly a team performance, and they played with conviction, spurred on by the faithful Cules. But special mention must be made of The Barcelona defense! It was impenetrable. As I mentioned earlier, Valdes pulled off some superb saves. Alves and Abidal were dynamic, they were solid at the back, won the ball, and played it forward. In the centre Pique and Puyol were like pillars. Pique offering some amazing tackles, and Puyol, captain magnificent. He was all over the Madrid attack, stretching himself. On the odd occasion he did let a ball go by, Pique was there to cover him. These two are undeniably the best centre-back pairing in the world.
It was a match that showcased the best footballers on the planet. In the end I feel Barcelona deserved the win (does anyone disagree?)Barca now reclaim their top spot, but Madrid are biting at their heels , only 2 points behind. The rest of the season is going to be thrilling! Hold on tight Peeps!