The hosts took full advantage, colonized their opponent’s half and had the better chances.
Enrique commented: “We did not play our best game in the first half but found ourselves in the second. Barca 1, Real 0.
The tactical set ups seemed the right ones for the rosters the coaches chose but the substitutions seemed strategic in Enrique’s case–to maintain the lead–while the Real ones seemed the predictable ones Ancelotti makes more out of reflex or need than with a specific strategic intent. The Frenchman back-heeled brilliantly for a streaking Ronaldo who came down the middle with a slide and poked the ball past Bravo’s fruitless dive. Real played us very well and seemed to find its old form in this game. His world class speed was never exploited and his teammates seemed content to attack on the other side of the field for the majority of the game.
The second half started with seeming mutual urgency and Real had some very early initiative, but the match soon returned to the incredible pace of the first half.
As for the individual battle between Messi and Ronaldo, the Portuguese was able to close the La Liga scoring gap but the Argentine seemed able to hold his own and in that draw Messi always pulls ahead. Had we taken advantage of our first-half chances this might have ended differently. In the defensive clashes it was Jordi Alba over Bale, Dani Alves and Marcelo cancelling each other out and Pique playing a better game than either Ramos or Pepe.
Missing in action today was Gareth Bale who has been under managerial, front office, and fan microscopes for his lack of major contributions this year. This was a pretty victory if not a definitive one in the race for the La Liga title.
Ancelotti, in the post-game press conference said: “We played well for 60 minutes and poorly for 30. Score tied. It will be left to European play for the golden trophy tiebreaker.
Ultimately, at the 31st minute, a brilliant Luka Modric pass found Karim Benzema open at the top right of the Barca box, just inside the big area. He seemed to wilt under the pressure of having to drop so far back on defense and then not having any long balls fed his way. But I leave this match with a positive feeling that my team has reemerged. A couple of Claudio Bravo saves, a Cristiano Ronaldo shot off the crossbar and several missed opportunities by various Merengues ensued. Barca 2, Real 1. Perhaps the only interesting note was Real’s 4-4-2 with Bale as the added midfielder, a tactic that seems to work defensively but not add much offensive punch as it leaves the Welshman out of many attacks.
The game began with a clear Catalan flavor as Real played a strange rope-a-dope-like strategy that saw the likes of Gareth Bale but a few yards in front of Dani Carvajal on defensive duties. In midfield, the clash between Iniesta and Modric went to the Croat while Javier Mascherano and Toni Kroos cancelled each other out. His comments aside, this team has to bring home silverware and it is more likely the domestic championship will serve as a training ground for the European competition they still have a good shot at winning.. The many goal opportunities would end up making a huge difference.
Finally, the clash that meant the world to Real went to Barca and with the Copa del Rey out of the picture for the Blancos it will be the Champions League that seems most likely to provide coach Carlo Ancelotti’s troops with their chance at redemption.
Ronaldo and Messi seemed to mostly cancel each other out not because they went missing but because each had about the same contribution to their causes.
At the 56th minute Luis Suarez trapped a long pass on the run between Pepe and Ramos, and in a single fluid motion knocked the ball against the grain and behind Pepe and the crouching Iker Casillas who was closing in but could only see the ball roll by toward the far post of the goal. They will be a force down the line here and abroad.”
Sunday at the Camp Nou Stadium, in Barcelona, Spain, hosts Barcelona FC defeated visiting Real Madrid 2-1 to take a four-point lead atop the La Liga table with ten games to play in the season. Yes Barcelona is four points clear, but we won’t give up, we will not make the Champions League our only focus, there are ten games ahead for both of us.”
At the 19th minute a Lionel Messi cross off a free kick found an open Jeremy Mathieu, who had lost his marker, Sergio Ramos, for the easy put-away header from inside the goalie’s box. Real Madrid did not seem to feel the urgency of the moment despite its dire need and Barcelona was again allowed to feel comfortable taking the initiative.
With the exception of the latter part of the opening half when Real exerted control and created many opportunities and the early minutes of the second half, when Messi and company seemed poised to take over, the game was perhaps, despite or because of the many yellows handed out, one of the tamest Clasicos in recent memory.
Then the visitors woke up and started to control the game, and they managed to do so for the remaining 26 minutes
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