Real Madrid surprised (shocked) everyone with their initial line-up starting with Altiltop (right-back) , Carvalho ( 113 days without play ) & Coentrao ( left back ). Also there was a Higuian-Benzema bet upfront that latter failed to give results, while Pepe was put in the midfield & later did a "party-trick" on Messi that will be the talk all day, but back to Football. It was a very "Italian" looking tactical set up with orders to put the ball upfront in pure English style. Barça on the other hand keep to "business as usual".
|Cristiano Ronaldo scores for Madrid|
It seemed that the Mourinho "Italian-English" feel was working as the counter-attack style was surprising Barça. Then CRISTIANO RONALDO managed to beat Pique & goalie Pinto to put Real Madrid ahead in the 11th min. It looked as if it would be Ronaldo´s night , but... "flash in the pan", at least he scored his teams only goal & that deserves credit & merit.
Slowly Barça began to find their groove & ALEXIS hit the post to send an early warning, so much so that Real Madrid goalie IKER CASILLAS had to do a "miraculous save" to hold back the inevitable, as it turned out later.
|Carles Puyol scores a header|
Both sides went into the dressing rooms fairly equalled with Barça perhaps warning more of what was to come, especially Alexis who was putting in a fine game both attacking & defending.
All the Real Madrid earlier 1º st half hard defensive work went down the drain when Xavi put in a corner to which PUYOL meet all alone to head the equalizer in the 48th min. Once again Real Madrid ( & Pepe this time ) were caught with their pants down in the fixed-play aerial area, childish mistakes that will cause more loses if not fixed soon.
More action came with an Inietsa post & a fine save by Barça goalie Pinto to keep out a Benzema header from going into the net. But Barça kept dominating the ball & making Real run after them which of course is humiliating, not to mention tiring. Real Coach Mourinho put on Callejon, Ozil & Granero to find the extra legs but nothing, a Messi pass found ABIDAL who scored the winner in the 79th min.
From here Real Madrid resigned from the task & accepted once again that they are NOT at the level of FC Barcelona. They do have the consolation of thinking that perhaps in the 2º leg at "Camp Nou" they may be able to better & win... but witnessed tonight & past results , I doubt it at this stage.
Another psychological blow - & on home turf again - that may had negatives effects in the short - term for Real Madrid which has an important Liga game this weekend with a need to win result. Barcelona will wait & see if they can cut back in the Liga as well.
Story to continue next week...