Barça won the Spanish Supercopa tonight after a terrific battle with rivals Real Madrid at Camp Nou. Unfortunately the game exploded into a shameful incident in the dying minutes when Marcelo was sent off for a disgraceful scythe on Barça newboy Cesc Fabregas. The game ought to be remembered for the intensity of the game and for the goals of Leo Messi and Andres Iniesta and for Cesc’s brief appearance, but it will be remembered infamously for the finger that Madrid’s coach Jose Mourinho stuck in Barça’s assistant coach Tito Vilanova’s eye during the battle that saw further red cards for David Villa and Ozil who’d both already been substituted. So much seemed to be going on I can’t say what everybody was doing and I’m sure some of our players who jumped from the bench such as Pinto and Busquets were not too innocent and Valdés was risking a second yellow by storming out of his goal, however, I don’t think I am showing any bias when I say that what Mourinho did was cheap and cowardly and unfortunately some of that cheap cowardice is represented on the field in players such as Marcelo and Pepe who are consistantly involved in pathetic off-the-ball aggression on our players. That he should lie about the incident in the press conference is a sign of the type of man he is, but the worst of all is to claim he doesn’t know who Tito Vilanova is (calling him “Pito” which is slang for penis) shows a total lack of class from Mourinho. Really really pathetic and sad.
It was a shame because the game had been a thriller. Mourinho and Madrid can take some credit for coming out to play this time but then again after the 2-2 draw in Madrid they had to. Camp Nou welcomed home the Wembley XI and so new signings Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez started on the bench while Coentrao came into defence in place of Marcelo for Madrid. Both teams played a risky game that led to a great contest. Madrid pressed up and tried to force us into errors in our own half and gave us plenty of problems in this way especially in the first 30 minutes. It is down to our machine not being as well oiled as back at Wembley, however, this team know each other and with Madrid playing high up we occasionally found big spaces to make runs into.
Cristiano Ronaldo was particularly dangerous early on and nearly all the early shots on goal came from the Portuguese. Then in the 15th minute Leo Messi received the ball near the touchline and he set off on a run that immediately reminded me off his wondergoal against Getafe except this time his run was not so vertical but as he came inside he released a peach of a pass for Andres Iniesta to run clean through, Iniesta still had the task of beating Iker Casillas but he made a subtle dummy sending Casillas leaning so much to his left that he couldn’t reach the ball as Iniesta lifted it over his right shoulder. A classy goal indeed.
However, we had seen in the first game that Madrid are looking physically stronger than us at this stage of preparation for the season, and tonight they hit back quickly. Ronaldo poked in after Benzema fired a corner back across goal in what may have been an offside position. Almost immediately Pedro forced a save from Casillas after a good through pass from Iniesta and then Ronaldo hit the bar via Valdés raised fists but the power of the shot made it extremely difficuly to follow the flight of the ball and we were relieved with the let-off and not long after Valdés had to save from Ozil after Abidal had left him onside. Now the game was really buzzing but it was Madrid and Ronaldo who were looking more dangerous. However, as at the Bernabeu they dropped a bit the last ten/fifteen minutes of the half and this was when Messi began to come to life. He made a couple of dangerous runs, forcing Casillas to save one with his foot. And then again, just as at the Bernabeu, we grabbed a goal on the stroke of half time, and again it was Messi, though this time it was Gerard Piqué with a beautiful back heel who set him up to score with a right foot chip over Casillas’s dive. And once again Madrid went in at half time losing while feeling they had had the better of the half.
The second half was more cagey in comparison though I think it is fair to say we controlled things better. Messi was in the game much more and it is amazing to see how much physical battering he can take and just keep on playing. In fact it should be said that Messi is looking more muscular these days and he seems to be able to take the challenges of such strong players as Pepe and Khedira though I thought Messi might lose his head for a moment and take a swing at Marcelo after the cowardly kick while supposedly jumping for the ball. And while I’m on the subject Pepe should have had a straight red for the locked pointing-up elbow position he employed while body-checking Messi. More cowardly tactics from the cowardly-Mourinho school of football.
Victor Valdés was troubled much less in the second half, but we got a warning when Benzema volleyed over after 69 minutes. Then two minutes later the over-rated Sergio Ramos missed a good chance heading wide unmarked at a corner. It seemed most of our suffering at the back was at corners as then despite not having created that much in the second half Madrid made it all square at 2-2 and 4-4 on aggregate when we again failed to clear a corner and Benzema ended up scoring after various players had taken a swing at it.
Madrid probably felt they deserved it but there was one more chapter for Messi to write. He had the help of Cesc Fabregas who came on in the 84th minute to play on the wing. Cesc had been on the field for four minutes when he played a pass inside to Messi who kept things flowing finding Adriano on the right before storming into the area to volley the return past Casillas with an outstretched left leg. Camp Nou erupted in joy. Things exploded more in the injury time with the Marcelo sending off and subsequent free-for-all at the end. A sad end to a cracking match. It’s now nearly half past two here so I’m off to my bed now. Over to you guys for your views on all the incidents.
Barça: Valdés 7.5; Alves 6.5, Mascherano 7, Piqué 6.5, Abidal 5.5; Xavi 6, Busquets 6 (Keita m85, 6), Iniesta 7; Pedro 6 (Fabregas m84, 6.5), Messi 8, Villa 6 (Adriano m73, 6).
Real Madrid: Casillas; Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho, Coentrao; Alonso, Khedira (Marcelo m45); Di María (Higuian m63), Ozil (Kaka m78), Ronaldo; Benzema.
Goals: m15 Iniesta 1-0, m20 Ronaldo 1-1, m45 Messi 2-1
Yellow cards: m28 Khedira, m42 Xavi, m54 Mascherano, m54 Ronaldo, m62 Pepe, m75 Ramos, m84 Coentrao, m93 Valdés
Red cards: m93 Marcelo, m94 Ozil, m94 Villa