16 April 2011
Fernando Porrero / Translation by Michael J. O'Donnell
The first of the four Clasicos had it all: good football, controversy, emotion, passion and two penalties. Different styles clashed at the Bernabeu; Real Madrid showcased Spartan discipline against Barcelona's touch football.
Jose Mourinho studied Guardiola's Barcelona in depth and decided the best option against them would be to use three defensive midfielders, one of them being Pepe, whose duty was to mark Leo Messi. Real Madrid didn't have much possession during the first half, allowing their opponent to have the ball in order to fall in their trap; the Whites intended to steal the ball swiftly and use their speed to counterattack. The first chance in the first 45 minutes was a header from Albiol just before half-time.
The match changed completely in the second half and the key moment in the game happened on the 51-minute mark when Albiol challenged Villa late inside the box and a penalty was awarded to Barcelona. The defender was sent off with a red card and Messi defeated Casillas.
The Whites' spirit did not break. Being one man down, Mourinho was forced to make changes and decided to bring on Ozil to add pace to the game. The German midfielder gave his team more possession and helped it control the game. Barcelona started to feel the pressure, both from Real Madrid and the Bernabeu crowd.
The locals were awarded a penalty in the 80th minute when Marcelo was tackled late by Alves in the box, but the referee forgot to show the Barcelona defender a booking that would have been his second in the match and would have therefore forced him off the pitch. Cristiano Ronaldo pulled rank and netted the equaliser.
The match grew crazy in its final minutes. The Whites worked hard to net a second strike and Khedira came close with a shot from outside the box that Valdes managed to grab. Villa also had a chance to net a winner for Barça, but he failed to control the ball inside the box. In the end, Real Madrid earned a draw that felt like a moral victory. It may have an important effect on the team for Wednesday's Copa del Rey final.
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Goal 83'|