With the teams holding out a draw in the first leg, this game was still very much open, which made looking forward to a second leg even more exciting! I’m sure everyone expected a very strong performance from both teams, and even more from the home team, who would be out to erase the pain of a European loss from the minds of their fans and get back to winning ways.
All eyes, I’m sure, were on Ballon D’Or winner, Lionel Messi, as well as on a very strong Cristiano Ronaldo as the world waited for the referee to blow the first whistle.
For the first 5-10 minutes of the game, Barcelona looked to be the first team to score, as they kept the most possession and seemed to threaten more at the Madrid end. The home side were even almost rewarded with a penalty in the 12th minute, only that the bad challenge had happened just outside the box.
After having gotten a free-kick in a very good spot from that challenge, however, the home side failed to take advantage of that chance, and their opponents were able to take advantage of this and make a good counter. In only about 60 seconds, what could’ve happened at one end happened at the other; Cristiano Ronaldo was fouled in the penalty area and the away side were awarded a penalty, which Ronaldo successfully converted into a wonderful goal, making him the first ever player to score in six successive clasicos away from home.
As soon as the home side realized what this meant, they tried to level things again, but the Madrid defense was just too strong. The whole Madrid team was playing confidently from their lead. Messi had a few decent attempts on goal, but Sergio Ramos & co. weren’t about to let anything ruin the night for their team! They did everything to clear the ball quickly and get their team on to good counters and try to catch their adversaries slipping.
Real Madrid’s wishes came true after Cristiano Ronaldo, with a little help from Angel Di Maria, was able to get past Pinto and net his second of the night, providing his team a little more safety in the form of a 2-goal cushion.
I think that at this point, with the way the home side were playing at that moment, many of us thought we would see a hat-trick from the magical Portuguese international. And indeed, we saw something close to that when he almost got a touch to his side’s third goal of the night, which was courtesy of an absolutely magnificent header by Raphael Varane. Three goals from Real, and by now FC Barcelona were surely finished, it seemed!
With only about 22 minutes left for Barcelona to get three goals, at least, it would only take them a miracle. The home side started to pick up a bit, but it was just not enough. Lionel Messi wasn’t quite getting there, and the Barcelona defense was just all over the place! Real Madrid could’ve added to their lead a few times after that, but fortunately for Barcelona, they were prevented.
The game was basically all Madrid from there, although there were a few good attempts to get the ball forward from the Blaugrana. All they managed to get, however, was a last-minute consolation (no, not from Messi, but from Jordi Alba)!
In as much as one would expect some drama and controversy in an El Clasico, it was great to see a clean match, in that no players were sent off during this match. There was a little trouble caused to Real Madrid defender Pepe by Puyol & co. towards the end, as well as the usual trouble in the stands, but it was nothing too serious; just a lot of pressure for the home side. Three yellow cards were issued during this match; 2 to Barcelona (Pique, Puyol) and 1 to Real Madrid (Arbeloa).
After their decisive victory over Barca, Real Madrid now advance to the 110th Copa Del Rey Final against Atletico Madrid. The match will be contested on 18 March 2013, and the (neutral) ground at which it will played in will be announced by RFEF. Their last meeting at the Copa Del Rey final occurred in 1975, where Real Madrid emerged victorious following 4-3 penalty shootout win (after ending 0-0 AET).
Jordi Roura (standing in for Tito Vilanova) and Jose Mourinho lined up the following squads:
Barcelona Starting XI:
Pinto, Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Pique, Puyol (c); Busquets, Fabregas, Iniesta, Xavi; Messi, Pedro
Subs: Valdes, Adriano, Song, Mascherano, Alcantara, David Villa, and Tello
Real Madrid Starting XI:
Diego Lopez, Arbeloa, Coentrao, Varane, Sergio Ramos (c); Di Maria, Ozil, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Ronaldo; Higuain
Subs: Adan, Pepe, Callejon, Kaka, Modric, Essien, Benzema
Final Score: Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid
Ronaldo 13′ (pen), 57′, Varane 68′, Jordi Alba 89′
Written by Ange Marline