30 August 2012
Real Madrid removed any shred of doubt that it could come back from the first two match days of the Liga, demonstrating once again that it rises to the big occasions and won the Spanish Supercup in brilliant style. The first half an hour the Whites’ performance was good enough to be framed, to be taught at any football academy, and by this time they had already scored two goals, had another ruled out, had enforced the correct sending off of Adriano and had shot on goal five times, versus its opponents zero attempts. Higuaín and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored for Madrid, while Messi, from a free kick, halved the deficit on the edge of half time. The second half saw the home side’s dominance, opportunities for both teams and the debut of Modric. The ninth Supercup now forms part of Real Madrid’s trophy cabinet.
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“The plan is simple: we will attack from the first minute”, ensured Mourinho in the preview. His team, loyal to its coach’s ideas, played with the Portuguese’s brave philosophy until the very end. In minute 2, Higuaín warned of their intentions with a shot from the edge of the area that went over the bar. The Argentine was also the protagonist of the home side’s second opportunity, which was much clearer; however, he was unable to beat the visiting goalkeeper in minute 7 in the one-on-one with Valdés, after a masterly assist from Marcelo. At the third attempt, however, the goalkeeper was beaten. A long ball from Pepe, a mistake by Mascherano when attempting to clear it that Higuaín made the most of to beat Valdés and put his team ahead. In 11 minutes, the Whites had enjoyed three clear chances to score, pressed closer to the opposition’s midfield than in the first leg and were giving the home fans something to cheer about.
The Whites did not want to settle for this slight advantage and four minutes later scored the second goal. A pass by Khedira from within his own half fell between Cristiano Ronaldo and Piqué. The Portuguese beat his marker, controlled in the area and struck the ball with immense power. His shot was blocked by Valdés, but ended up in the net. The Portuguese thus matches Zamorano as the only Madrid players who have scored in five consecutive Clásicos. 2-0 in less than twenty minutes and attacking pressure from a team that was pleasing its fans in the Bernabeu.
The home side’s attacking force did not stop there. Higuaín, who was a headache for the blaugranas, could have scored his second of the match, but Valdés prevented him from doing so in another one-on-one in minute 21. Ten minutes later, from a free kick taken by Xabi Alonso, Ramos headed the ball into the back of the net, but Mateu Lahoz ruled it out because of a foul by Pepe. Real Madrid continued to impose its game on the visiting side and this pressure bore fruit with the sending off of Adriano, who brought down Cristiano Ronaldo outside of the area when he was going to face-off against Valdés. The Brazilian, who was the visiting side’s last player, was correctly sent off in minute 28. Half an hour into the game, the home side was overwhelming its opponent, having scored two goals and having another ruled out and having enforced the correct sending off of Adriano and shot at goal five times versus the visiting side’s zero attempts. It was a demonstration of superiority in front of its fans.
With ten men on the pitch, Vilanova was obliged to make his first change: Montoya replaced Alexis. Despite this, the dangerous moves still belonged to the home side. A rapid counterattack once again surprised Barcelona, Higuaín arriving in the area and when he had readied himself to shoot Mascherano appeared to make a block vital to the visiting side’s interests in minute 32. With the clash approaching half time and Real Madrid heading to the dressing rooms with a slight advantage based on the countless opportunities they had had, Messi scored with Barcelona’s only shot on goal in the first half. The Argentine reduced the deficit from a free kick in minute 44.
The sides’ approaches for the second half were clear. Real Madrid dominated possession and controlled the game’s tempo, while their opponent, down to ten men, looked to surprise on the counter. Pedro attempted it on two occasions, the first very similar to the move with which Barcelona equalised in the first leg, but on both occasions he came across an unmoveable Casillas. In minute 68, Real Madrid played a similar move. Excellent play by Khedira who, after passing three opponents, arrived in front of Valdés. His shot with the outside of his boot was blocked by the blaugrana goalkeeper. The Whites’ first change came in minute 78: Callejón on for Di María. One minute later, Higuaín had an opportunity to score the third but his shot met the post after he had beaten Valdés. Benzema replaced the Argentine with ten minutes of the match left. Modric’s debut arrived in minute 82, with the Croat replacing Özil. The Croat could not have made a better start, coming close to scoring his first goal as a Madrid player and adding another title to his list of successes, and his first with his new team.
Real Madrid has removed any shred of doubt after the first two match days in the Liga, once again demonstrating that it rises to the big occasions and the most difficult moments. The Whites won the second of the four Clásicos, so far, that will be played this season and lifted the first title of the season: the Spanish Supercup.