Tito Vilanova and his team won round one of this two-round fight as Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-2 in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Barcelona dominated the first half as the tiki-taka was in full display. Lionel Messi had two good looks at the goal but misfired. Xavi and Andres Iniesta started off well, finding Alexis Sanchez and Pedro on the wings to set up the attack.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema had a quiet first half as the Barça possession held the two powerful forwards at bay.
Like in all recent Clásicos, it’s in the second half where we saw the game begin to come to action.
Ronaldo got things started with a tremendous header we are used to seeing from CR7 as he pushed it past a frozen Victor Valdes for the 1-0 lead.
For Culés, it felt like it was going to be one of those nights like the one we saw in April when Ronaldo’s goal defeated Barcelona.
But Pedro responded immediately and got the equalizer within a minute of Cristiano’s goal as a great pass from Javier Mascherano freed Pedro past Fabio Coentrao and the Canarian shot it past Iker Casillas for the 1-1 tie.
In the 69th minute, Andres Iniesta was taken down by Sergio Ramos inside the box and was awarded a penalty. Lionel Messi—with the world watching—put the ball into the back of the net and made it 2-1 Barcelona.
Iniesta was clearly the man of the match as his dribbling skills helped Don Andres find Xavi wide open and made it 3-1 to El Blaugrana in the 77th minute.
The play most are talking about is what Victor Valdes did in the 85th minute.
With the game—perhaps even the Super Cup—in control, Valdes received a pass from Adriano to kick the ball forward. With a charging Angel Di Maria coming towards him, Valdes should have kicked the ball as far as he could.
Instead, Valdes decided to keep the ball and—I guess—tried to dribble the ball away from Di Maria.
Di Maria stole the ball and scored, making it 3-2, which is how the game ended.
I don’t know what VV was thinking, but that is completely unacceptable. Especially when you are playing in a Clásico. Just awful.
Aside from Valdes’ brain cramp, FC Barcelona dominated and deserved this victory.
It’s time to give Tito Vilanova’s players their report cards for this game.
Here are my grades for each FC Barcelona player in their 3-2 victory over Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.