Brave Barcelona Fall Just Short

August 30, 2012

10-man Barcelona lost the Super Cup on away goals on Wednesday night, slipping to 2-1 defeat, with the score 4-4 on aggregate. In a torrid first half, Barça conceded two goals in quick succession and had Adriano sent off. They pulled a goal back via a Messi free-kick and rallied in the second half, but were unable to find a winning goal.

Barcelona looked confident in the first ten minutes, with Pedro finding some dangerous space, but the positive start was undone when Real Madrid played a hopeful ball over the top. Higuaín was making a run, but Mascherano looked set to clear until he kicked at air, leaving the Argentine forward with plenty of time to place his shot beneath Víctor Valdés.

The next 20 minutes were brutal – Barcelona’s defence under constant pressure and unable to find Xavi, Iniesta or Messi in any space.

Real Madrid’s second goal arrived after Valdés had been called into action a number of times. It came from another long-ball – Piqué tried to cut it out, but deflected it to Cristiano Ronaldo, who flicked it high into the air and brought it down on the right angle of the penalty area, now facing Valdés one-on-one. The Portuguese forward hit it low, and Valdés made contact, but the ball deflected up and into the roof of the net.

Barcelona were still unable to settle and looked uncomfortable dealing with Madrid’s direct passing. In one attack Adriano was left isolated by a long ball for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Brazilian defender tried to get his tackle in but was second to the ball, giving away a professional foul and seeing red.

After withdrawing Alexis and bringing on Montoya, Barcelona saw out the half in comparative comfort, fashioning a couple of attacks and pinning Real Madrid back. After ten minutes of building pressure, Messi cracked home a stunning free-kick from 30 yards that curled round the wall and beat Casillas at the left post to make it 2-1 on the night.

Following a tentative start, the second half burst into life 15 minutes in, after some great work by Pedro. The winger first controlled a long-range pass with an immaculate first touch, seeing his subsequent shot saved by Casillas. And minutes later he embarked on an exciting run down the right flank, before cutting inside and forcing another save from Madrid’s ‘keeper.

Until this point Real Madrid had been happy to slow the tempo, but responded by initiating attacks of their own. Khedira bustled past two defenders before Valdés blocked his close-range shot, while Higuaín grazed the outside of the post after being sent clear – Mascherano had managed to get make a crucial challenge at the last moment.

In a frenetic ending, Barcelona had chances to win the tie. Montoya raced through down the right-flank, but Casillas pulled off another big save. Then in the last minute substitute Alex Song set up Messi, but the Argentine’s effort flew just wide.

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