21 April 2012
Fernando Porrero / Translation by Michael J. O'Donnell
Real Madrid were dubbed Best Club of the 20th Century for a reason. The team has won nine European Cups and 31 league titles thanks to performances like the one they gave tonight at Camp Nou. The team gave a football masterclass against Barcelona and grasps the league title with the tip of its fingers.
The lineup was the same that started against Bayern Munchen. Mourinho's men pressurised in attack looking for quick steals to counterattack through Di Maria and Ronaldo. They had their first chance four minutes into the game when the Portuguese striker tried to head in an Ozil corner-kick, but Valdes saved the day for the locals. Two minutes later, Alves faced Casillas alone, but the keeper snatched the ball from him with a clean sweep.
Valdes cleared a good Benzema shot on the 10-minute mark and Barcelona started to have more possession but didn't have any clear chances. An Ozil corner-kick in the 17th minute resulted in the Madridistas' first goal: Ronaldo tried to head it in and Valdes failed to clear the ball, which landed at Puyol's feet, but the defender didn't manage to clear it either and Khedira snatched it from him to tally the first strike in the match.
Barcelona upped the pace to the game and Real defended more, Xabi Alonso in particular, who gave a solid performance in defence to help Coentrao. Barcelona's best chance came when Messi passed the ball to Xavi, whose shot was slightly, but sufficiently, deflected by Casillas. Guardiola's men began to play a hasty game while still posing little threat thanks to Madrid's good defending.
There were no changes on either side after half-time. Barcelona knew failing to win would practically hand the title over to Real Madrid, who started to relax a little. The locals played touch football in search of a goal and Tello missed the target with a shot on the 57-minute mark. A messy effort in Madrid's box ended with Alexis pushing the ball in the goal and therefore netting the equaliser. The crowd roared, but Real Madrid failed to tremble and Cristiano Ronaldo dribbled past Valdes to net the winner after a spectacular effort just two minutes later.
Ronaldo's strike was a harsh blow to the locals, who failed to react. Mourinho made Granero come on for Di Maria, which helped the team keep possession and move the ball around as they pleased. As the minutes went by Real Madrid looked increasingly confident and became the masters at Camp Nou to the crowd's astonishment.