FC Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 2

Barça and Real Madrid drew 2-2 in a thrilling contest tonight at Camp Nou with Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the goals between them. Ronaldo put Madrid deservedly ahead halfway through the first half only for Messi to equalize seven minutes later. As the game swung back in Barça’s favour Messi sent Camp Nou into ecstasy with a brilliant curling free kick after an hour only for Ronaldo to bring things level again five minutes later. Both sides hit also hit the woodwork, Benzema when Madrid were 0-1 up, while Martin Montoya, who’d come on as a first half sub for the injured Dani Alves, cracked the crossbar in the dying minutes.

The big surprise from Tito Vilanova was the choice of Adriano Correira to play alongside Javier Mascherano in defence, Cesc continued in midfield while Iniesta stated wide on the left with Alexis on the bench. José Mourinho went for a classic Madrid XI with Ozil being preferred to Modric and Kaká, Khedira alongslde Alonso and with Benzema starting up front.

Madrid had the better of the opening exchanges with Di Maria firing the first shot over the bar in the sixth minute. Barça were finding it difficult to create danger with the first sign being a low cross from Cesc in the 11th minute that Pepe cut out. Benzema then had a chance with a volley that he mishit and as Madrid continued to press forward Ramos headed inches wide from Ozil’s corner.

Barça finally managed to complete a patient move forward with Cesc assisting Iniesta who gained a yard on Alonso but sent his shot over from the edge of the area. However, Madrid continued to look the more dangerous team and with their own patient build-up they took the lead in the 23rd minute. The move began with Ozil on the right and the ball came across through Khedira and Benzema who found Ronaldo with room on the left, Alves was slow again as at Sevilla to close down the opponent, and Ronaldo fired low past Valdés at his near post.

Madrid could easily have gone 0-2 up soon after when Benzema had room to fire against the post from 10 yards and we were fortunate that Di Maria sent the rebound wide. Things were not looking good and it got worse soon after when Alves went down injured and had to be replaced by Montoya. Alves will be out for three weeks, though it is fair to say that he is way off his best form recently and it was after Montoya came on that Barça began to improve.

Three minutes after the substitution Iniesta found Pedro on the right and his cross first hit Ramos before ricocheting off Alonso and looping in the air inside the area, Pepe made an awful mess of jumping in an attempt to head clear and the ball broke loose just six yards out and Messi was on hand to pounce and stroke the ball past Casillas for the equalizer. The rest of the first half was a bit scrappy as Pedro and Alonso received the first yellow cards but Madrid were not pushing us back so much and we were looking much more comfortable.

The second half began with a scare as Ozil went down in the area after brushing Mascherano but the ref Delgado Ferreiro, probably correctly, waved play on. Barça went straight up the other end with a tremendous run from Messi on the right but his low cross was cut out. Xavi had a shot blocked but it was difficult for either side to find chances. Iniesta then went down in Madrid’s area after a similar brush with Pepe and Delgado Ferreiro again waved play on. Montoya had been pretty solid since coming on but Ozil once, and Ronaldo twice, managed to get away from him but the crosses were off target. At the other end Iniesta won a corner and Pedro sent in another cross with no finisher.

The game was very well balanced but a moment of genius from Messi put Barça in front. Xavi Alonso was a touch fortunate not to see a second yellow for bringing Messi down just over 25 yards out. Messi and Xavi lined up for the kick and it was Messi who curled a splendid curler over the wall and out of Casillas’s reach. Mourinho brought on Higuain for Benzema while Tito opted for Alexis in place of Fabregas, and Iniesta moved back to midfield where he was more effective. Unfortunately Alexis wasn’t too effective and in the 66th minute he lost the ball to Ozil who played the ball quickly through our exposed defence and Ronaldo finished clinically.

The final twenty minutes saw Barça as the team looking more like scoring as Iniesta and Messi began to combine more. Messi sent a short cross just too far for Pedro to reach and then Iniesta sent in another low cross to nobody. We won more free kicks but Messi couldn’t repeat his feat while at the other end Higuain forced Valdés to a save at his near post.

The game could have gone either way but Barça were pushing forward more. In the 88th minute a patient, almost over-elaborate build up ended with Xavi finding Pedro who knocked the ball back to Montoya who sent in a belter from 25 yards that bounced out off the crossbar with Casillas beaten. There were late shots from Xavi and Pedro twice but none came as close as Montoya’s effort which would have been a brilliant finish to an intense highly entertaining game.

Given Barça’s eight-point advantage the draw will not been taken too badly by Barça and no doubt both sides will try to take it as a victory in some way. The result was a fair one given the merits of the two teams, however, both coaches have work to do. For Barça, despite the good results this season, there is the feeling that the team is quite a way from its best. Perhaps we can claim bad luck with injuries – though I felt Adriano gave a creditable performance at centre back – however, I am more concerned with some of the below-par performances from some of our players. It is not always the same players but Alves and Alexis have had more than their fair share recently. I wonder if we are missing the intensity of Guardiola to keep the players on their toes.

Vilanova took a brave decision with Adriano and in general in can be said to be a good one. Song has struggled there, and while I would have liked to see Bartra when Piqué first got injured, given the failure of Song so far it might have been risky to throw in the youngster now. On the other hand, placing Iniesta on the left made his influence less and despite Alexis’s form, the team improved when Iniesta moved back. The decision of where to play Iniesta is not a new one and we may well have the same argument for a long time. Again we failed to win the seventh league game after winning the first six, however, with Iniesta back and an easyish run of games coming up after the break now for World Cup games, we should be confident of maintaining or increasing our eight point lead in the coming weeks.

Barça: Valdes 6; Alves 5.5 (Montoya m27, 7), Mascherano 6.5, Adriano 7, Alba 7; Xavi 6.5, Busquets 7.5, Fabregas 7 (Alexis m62, 5.5); Pedro 7, Messi 7.5, Iniesta 7.

Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Khedira, Alonso; Özil (Kaká m80), Ronaldo, Di María (Essien m88); Benzema (Higuain m62).

Goals: m23 Ronaldo 0-1, m31 Messi 1-1, m61 Messi 2-1, m66 Ronaldo 2-2

Yellow cards: m39 Pedro, m43 Alonso, m54 Busquets, m57 Ozil, m78 Pepe, m90 Arbeloa

Attendance: 96,589

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16 Responses to FC Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 2

  1. ewe_gb says:

    the defense is obviously the “negative” hot-spot of barca. it shows again and again that it is a must to buy a good cb in the winter transfer period: in the champions league barca can quite easily loose a two-tier contest with this “defense”.

    but all in all, I think that the whole team needs to work harder defensively to deny that fast counter-attacks and the other chances that real had tonight.

    next barca should buy a very good goalkeeper who comfortably deals with the high balls.

    i thought that alexis really has improved: some quite good dribblings, no falling over himself, quite good passes.

    no need to buy neymar!

    barca needs to build the next great team by buying center backs and a very good goalkeeper.

    neymar won’t help them in that respect.

  2. Fredegar says:

    Personnally, I was not too impressed by Adriano. Or better said, by Adriano’s selection, cos’ if he struggled in my opinion, it wouldn’t be fair to blame him. But with him at the heart and a poor Alves, we really looked weak and conceded a lot of chances. And it’s Adriano’s positioning that allowed Ronaldo to beat the offside trap for the second… It was a strange decision as Adriano, for all his qualities, was never the more disciplined player tactically, so to put him in this position with zero preparation was asking for trouble.
    With such a defense, I felt relieved that we didn’t concede a loss, but in the same time I was angry that we couldn’t win the game, as we were the best team on the pitch once more at the end of the game, when our good physical shape began to tell. It’s a shame that we conceded such a poor equaliser as I think that, had we hold for ten more minutes, we would have won this game. All in all, if not great, it’s a good result. We faced our main rivals in full flow and with no injuries, had a makeshift defense to oppose to one of the most fearsome attacking lines in the world and finished the day with our 8 points advance still intact.

  3. Xavi says:

    Messi’s free kick recorded from the crowd – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5GLT66fc2A&feature=youtu.be

  4. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Why in the world was Alexis preferred as a sub to David Villa only Tito and the management should know. I felt that we needed a David Villa immediately when we were 2-1 up. About the defence,,, hell we really need to strengthen up this sector come January or risk losing out in trophies at the end of the season. The defence just doesn’t make sense for all the quality we have in midfield and in attack.

  5. barcacentralomer says:

    At the risk of repeating myself and echoing the sentiments of most Barca fans, this obsession of a CDM/CB in one player obsession has to stop. It might have worked in the case of Mascherano (even though with his height it means he’s almost ineffective in set pieces) but Alex Song was hopeless when tried out as a CB. Barca need to shortlist a few top notch CBs that can adjust to the Barca playing style bcos Puyol is not going to get any younger and Pique has just not been the same player for the past season or so. The youngsters aka Bartra,Muniesa and Fontas will need time.

    @Nic: Why hasn’t Barca ever gone for a CB from the English premier league? I know the playing style is a major factor but with the pace and physical nature of the EPL, wouldn’t an accomplished CB from the EPL be a worthy addition to a defence that frankly IMO seems to be in shambles at present.

    As for the game itself, I think Barca were lucky to get away with a draw considering Real were at full-strength and we had a makeshift defence (again). I’m also a bit perturbed with the LW/LF position. Who exactly is our best player in that position? Iniesta isn’t a natural LW/LF and if Alexis and Villa aren’t willing / capable of slotting in as LW/LF, then why did we dish out so much money on players who aren’t even in the starting XI. I agree with Nic that Iniesta was far better when reverting to his midfield role.

    Finally, some people reckon Alves was to blame for the first goal which I agree to a certain extent but surely a world class keeper like Valdes should also have known where to position himself instead of letting the ball slip through the gap between him and the bear post. I’m not a football expert but isn’t that a basic GK technique. I don’t want to sound like one of the Valdes lynch mob but the error yesterday as in the first SuperCup fixture and the CL match against Chelsea is evidence that he does suffer from lapses of concentration and perhaps its due to his relatively safe position at the club. Maybe he needs competition to raise his game.

    • barcacentralnic says:

      On the question of a premier league centre back I imagine it’s a combination of them being too expensive, not technically suited to a possession short passing game, and with the English players at least, the problem of language and new culture.
      When I played as a schoolboy in England the defenders were encouraged to just clear the ball quickly and as far as possible. With the heavy pitches that were so common it was suicide to expect your defenders to try and pass the ball short, and few coaches had the guts to try and develop this side of a defender’s game.
      Things may be changing now in England but I doubt you would see the confidence to pass between defenders that you can see in youngsters playing for their local teams in and around Barcelona..

      • barcacentralomer says:

        @Nic: What I meant was that playing in the fast and physical EPL would another dimension to the Barca defence that in Puyol’s (and Abidal’s) absence seems to be missing ATM. Moreover we don’t particularly need English rather EPL proven defenders, however I agree that with the new found riches of Chelski and Abu Dhabi FC and our financial situation, it’d be difficult to get the best defenders from the EPL. Still a few Prem League sides that have had foreign coaches and play a similar style to Barca aka Arsenal and Swansea might have a player or two amongst their ranks who could in a relatively short time be moulded into a Barca player.

  6. barcacentralomer says:

    *near post

  7. barcacentralnic says:

    A couple more takes on the game –
    From Sid Lowe – http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/oct/07/barcelona-real-madrid-la-liga-report
    And from Zonal marking (for those of you who like the tactical side of things) – http://www.zonalmarking.net/2012/10/07/barcelona-2-2-real-madrid-two-goals-each-for-ronaldo-and-messi/

    • FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

      We really need him NOW more than anything else…and i hope Bartra gets more minutes going. We have to address our defence real quick.

    • FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

      i would love ABI to be back at his best….and i really hope he still has it given the fact that he has been out for so long and also the ‘age factor’

  8. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    A POSSIBLE CENTRE BACK THAT WE SHOULD AND COULD CONSIDER http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YFTtLTavo8

  9. Fredegar says:

    Had you forgotten (even just a little bit) how much you liked Ronaldinho? Then check this link out!

    http://www.nesn.com/2012/10/tearful-ronaldinho-honors-late-stepfather-with-stunning-goal-hat-trick-video.html

    Beautiful goal, moving celebration… Still loving you Ronnie!

    Great news about Abidal, although it must be said that the pictures look more like a travelling catalogue 😉
    As for Yanga-Mbiwa, he will be a hot property in the next transfer windows, French champion and already a regular in the French national team and still very young, if he can confirm his talent this season…

  10. barcacentralomer says:

    Thanks for the R10 post Fred. Good point about the French youngster as well. Newcastle have set a fabulous example for other clubs by identifying mid-priced talent from the continent especially France and luring them to the Toon army where a lot of the value buys have flourished. Cabaye,Tiote, Ben Arfa, Demba Ba and Cisse might not be the best in the world but I’m sure their transfer value has multiplied since their arrival at NUFC. They’ve even turned big club rejects like Danny Simpson into a decent player who is a regualr starter for them. Colocinni is the one that boggles me the most. He was a good defender at Deportivo but it seems even with his 30 something age he’s become even better in the EPL which is a far sterner test for defenders in terms of pace and the physical nature of the EPL game.

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