Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Score, Highlights and Grades
The matchup between Real Madrid and Barcelona finished 3-2 in favor of Barcelona. After a relatively uneventful first half, the scoring came at a fast and furious pace in the second 45 minutes.
The first leg of the Spanish Super Cup was hyped for a reason. Not only are these two of the world's best squads, but they feature the world's top-two players.
With the 2012 football season just getting underway, this was a dream contest.
Both sides fought hard. The score stood nil-nil at halftime, with Barcelona controlling most of the action. They outshot Madrid, 9-1, in the first half and possessed the ball 72 percent of the time.
The second half was much more physical and exciting. Multiple yellow cards were handed out, and Sergio Ramos committed a huge foul in the box on Andres Iniesta to set up Lionel Messi's penalty-kick goal.
The game took a wild turn with Barcelona leading, 3-1, and less than 10 minutes left. Substitute Angel Di Maria put Madrid back in striking distance by scoring on a Victor Valdes mishandle, but his team couldn't quite make up the difference.
In the end, Barcelona's focus outdid Madrid.
Let's take a look at some highlights and grade the players who played the biggest role in this match's final outcome.
On to the highlights, and I'll warn you that there are quite a few (and could have been more) from this action-packed contest.
Barcelona's midfield is wrought with talented passers, and they put that on full display during this scoring opportunity in the first half:
Games like these always have their fair share of physical play as well. We saw multiple yellow cards in this one. Check out Madrid's Xabi Alonso put a hard tackle on Sergio Busquets in the first half of Thursday's action:
Aside from the physical, you also had the faux physical:
It wouldn't be a highlight if we didn't show Ronaldo's goal early in the second half. Busquets' poor positioning here played a big part in Ronaldo burying this ball in the net:
That goal was barely tallied before Pedro knotted the score at one:
Here's the last quick clip. Check out Di Maria get the crowd off his feet by pulling Madrid within one:
Leo Messi: A
Messi was a big reason that Barcelona managed to control the majority of the first half, and his success didn't subside in the second half.
Messi had three shots in the first half and controlled the tempo of Barca's attack, as we've come to expect.
You don't become the best player in the world without performing your best on the biggest stage. Messi played like he knew a rival was on the field, and he didn't disappoint.
He didn't score a "regular" goal, but Messi buried his penalty kick behind Iker Casillas with ease.
Ronaldo didn't play his best game overall, but he got the scoring started for both sides. He showcased his penchant for the big moment when he handed his squad the 1-0 lead.
He couldn't find consistent space to work with, but Ronaldo was masterful on his goal. He took Mesut Ozil's perfect setup and buried it the way only he could.
Ronaldo's goal made for a memorable moment in an exciting second half of action. He will only improve as the season rolls along.
Xavi's a technically sound, consistent presence on the right side of the midfield for Barcelona. He doesn't provide the scoring of Messi, but his tactical prowess is a major boost to their attack.
The Barcelona midfielder attacked the Madrid defense relentlessly in the first half. He had five total shots and pushed the envelope on a regular basis.
He also managed to draw a handful of fouls.
Which player had a bigger influence on their team's attack?
Xavi earned his grade with his goal in the second half. Iniesta set him up perfectly, but he finished with the collective calm that only a star could.
Mesut Ozil: A
Ozil is one of the most talented central midfielders in the world because of his phenomenal playmaking ability.
He clearly demonstrated this on Thursday. Ozil set up Ronaldo's opening goal, and he made several other precise passes throughout the 90 minutes.
Madrid's offense depends on Ronaldo to score goals, but Ozil is an exceptional passer. They rely on him to maintain their attack's form and to pace the flow in that end.
Ozil quietly maintains control of the game, and he did that against Barcelona.
Pedro earned his grade because of two things: His energy was through the roof for the length of the match, and his goal to answer Ronaldo's opening tally kept his club in the match.
He doesn't get the publicity due to playing next to Messi, but Pedro was extremely influential in this match. He put multiple shots on net and tested the mettle of the Madrid defense on a regular basis.
Pedro never stopped working in this one. His frenetic pace put pressure on Madrid and made sure they couldn't just focus on Messi's talented touches.
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