Messi and CR7
Well, that was fun, wasn't it?
OK, maybe not much fun for FC Barcelona fans.
Real Madrid went out in front of their home fans at the Santiago Bernabeu and showed why they are still the kings of Spain as they defeated Barcelona 2-1 in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
For this article, I'm just going to give you my thoughts on the game.
First off, let me say congratulations to Real Madrid and their fans on the team's victory. They were the better team in this game and deserved to win. Jose Mourinho continued to order his men to attack and they exposed Barça throughout the game, especially in the first half.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a fantastic game. He was on from the beginning and was flying everywhere on the pitch. Gonzalo Higuain came out sharp as well and nearly got a goal within the first seven minutes of the game. Pipita finally got his goal a few minutes later as he took advantage of a Javier Mascherano mistake and put the ball past Victor Valdes for the 1-0 lead.
Ronaldo made it 2-0 soon after that as a fabulous heel kick combined with another sloppy Barcelona defensive play lead to him controlling the ball, setting up his shot and getting it passed Valdes for the score. A tremendous play from CR7.
At that point it seemed like it was all going down for Tito Vilanova's men.
That's because it was.
Real could have easily made it 4-0 before halftime as Barcelona was completely useless on offense and defense. Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano were terrible. I don't know what was wrong with both of them but their heads were not in the game. Adriano getting the red card was inevitable as he struggled to keep up with the Real forwards, especially Ronaldo.
If it wasn't for the brilliance of Lionel Messi, this game would have been done at halftime. An amazing golazo by Leo on the free kick to make it 2-1 before the half. Victor Valdes also had a solid game and was another reason Real were not up 4-0 by the half.
The second half saw a 10-man Barcelona squad control more of the ball possession, but being a man down, the team was not able to get too many opportunities to challenge Iker Casillas.
Jordi Alba and Martin Montoya came close in the second half. But the player of the game for Barcelona on the night was Pedro. The Canarian was the only threat for most of the first half as well as the second half, including what would have been a goal if it weren't for the brilliance of Iker.
Messi had a good look in injury time but he put it to the left of the post.
When the final whistle blew, I said one thing to myself: Real Madrid won this Supercopa more than Barcelona lost it.
I don't know what to say about the defense other than it made me sick. Mascherano looked lost as he was getting beat by Ronaldo and Higuain. Pique was lost as well as he continues to struggle. It feels like Gerard hasn't played consistently well since...well, he started dating Shakira.
Yes, I just threw Shakira under the bus. Waka waka.
Would Dani Alves have made a difference in the back line if he had played? Or would Carles Puyol if he were healthy? Perhaps. But let's not get into too many "would've's" now.
The defense has been the biggest weakness of Barcelona since the beginning of last season. I can still remember my first article on Bleacher Report almost a year ago where I criticized Barcelona not spending money on defenders.
I feel like the team is back to where they were a year ago.
Yes, Sandro Rosell made an effort to sign Thiago Silva, but that was a disaster and Barcelona let other defenders get away like Mats Hummels. Jordi Alba's signing was a win, but the case can be made that signing a center-back should have happened first.
Like last season, we see that this defense could again be the downfall of this Barcelona team.
With the summer transfer window closing, it's too late for Barça to go out and sign a defender. Also, the money they had left was spent on Alex Song.
If I were Tito Vilanova, I'd have a four-month plan on the defense. I'd begin to play Marc Bartra as much as possible, and put him in the Valencia game coming up. This Barcelona team needs to find out what they have with this kid. Bartra needs the experience.
If Marc Bartra does not show enough promise by January, Barcelona may have to dig in their pockets and buy a new CB in the winter transfer window.
I'm not panicking. Just saying that Barcelona could be heading down the same road they went down last year if the defense does not improve.
Many Culés are blaming Victor Valdes for this Super Cup loss. Valdes' error late in the first leg was costly, but it was not the sole reason Barcelona lost this Supercopa, although it did contribute to it.
Valdes is the "yin-yang" goalkeeper. He's sometimes the shadow and sometimes the light. He's both pretty good and pretty bad.
Let's not forget about the midfield and forwards as well in this second leg game. Xavi and Andres Iniesta were invisible in the first half of this game, Sergio Busquets as well. Alexis Sanchez had a bad game and had to leave the game due to Adriano's red card as Martin Montoya came in to play RB. Alexis has become too predictable in his moves and needs to improve his game asap. Messi always was going to be swarmed by the Real defenders, so I wasn't surprised he was not as effective as he normally is.
But let's give credit to Real Madrid as well. Angel Di Maria's effort in the first leg saved the Super Cup for Real and the team took care of the rest in the second leg. Jose Mourinho stayed with his tactics and he deserves credit for doing so.
As a Barcelona fan, I am not mad or upset at Real Madrid by any means. I thought they played fantastically and they deserved to win it. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to say that.
On twitter, I noticed some Barcelona fans not wanting to show respect to Real Madrid or their victory. To me, if you do not show respect to Real Madrid or any team after a loss, you are not a true Culé.
Do I make jokes about Real or write against them in some of my articles? Yes. Jokes about the opponent is part of any rivalry. As far as what I write, I'm The Voice of FC Barcelona on Bleacher Report. I'm a Barcelona fan who writes articles for my audience: Barcelona fans. Do you really expect me to favor Real Madrid in my columns? Of course I'm biased.
All writing is biased to some extent.
But one thing no one can say about me is that I am not respectful in defeat. You can look at my twitter account and see how I respectfully congratulated Real Madrid and their fans on the win. And this loss wasn't the first time. I've always shown respect to Real when facing Barça head-to-head in my previous articles as well as when teams like Chelsea have defeated Barcelona.
All Culés need to show respect and congratulate Real Madrid on their win. They beat Barcelona fair and square. You can't be mad at them. They did what they had to do. Barcelona made mistakes, and you cannot expect a team like Real Madrid to not take advantage of those mistakes.
This was a very entertaining Super Cup. These are the kinds of games that no other country or league has.
Culés, I know this was a tough loss. But you have to be proud of your team and how they fought in the second half of the game. Down to 10 men, Barcelona fought hard and was just a goal away from victory.
This was a tough loss, but that's football. You can't win them all.
The season's first trophy goes to Real Madrid, but Barcelona still has a five-point lead on Los Blancos in La Liga, and that's the more important trophy for Barça to go after.
There are still plenty of things for this Barcelona team to work on. Let's hope they bounce back strong against Valencia this weekend.
Once again, congratulations to Real Madrid on winning the Spanish Super Cup.
Stay strong, Culés. FC Barcelona will bounce back.
We always do.
Proud to be a Culé, Xoel.
Visca el Barça!
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona on Bleacher Report.
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