The La Liga title was all but settled when Barcelona and Real Madrid played the first of their four games in rapid succession so there wasn’t much at stake. It was a bigger deal when Real pulled off an extra time win with ten men against Barca last week in the Copa Del Rey final but now are the ones that really matter.
The Champions League Semi final, will, over two legs set both these clubs on very different future paths depending on who advances and who doesn’t. These are games that could cause the sort of introspection and rebuilding we would have seen had the Canucks lost to Chicago last night.
Let’s see how it pans out….
Hmm. Puyol as a left back? Funny choice. There’s a few outside backs injured or unavailable for Barcelona but for me, Pique and Puyol at centre back with Busquets holding in front of them is the optimal lineup.
17th minute: Ronaldo having a moan at his teammates for not helping to close down the Barca back four. Goes from that straight a full mope.
22nd minute: Predictably, possession heavily favours Barca to this point. They have the ball 78% of the time. High even by their standards. Very little penetration into the Real attacking third though.
Surprised that Villa is really sticking to the right hand side of the field. He seems to prefer the left and it’s clogging up the spaces Alves is so dangerous in when he attacks.
It’s getting silly now. Real diving for free kicks down the flank to set up crosses into the box and Pedro diving and clutching his face when obstructed off the ball. The game deserves better than this but it’s just a bundle of tension right now with little constructive play by either side.
Barcelona really miss Iniesta’s ability to link midfield and forwards.
Another dive by DiMaria for another wide free kick. Preceded by another Barcelona going down clutching their face for no reason.
Half ends with a dangerous strike by Ronaldo from far out that handcuffed Valdes in goal. Then some handbags by the tunnel on the way to the dressing game.
Real’s very high pressure is proving to be disruptive enough that Barcelona’s possession is too far back to enable Xavi to get as involved as he needs to be for Barcelona to get Messi, Villa and Pedro involved.
Not a classic so far by any stretch but the Copa Del Rey got much better as it went on so there’s hope.
So Pinto gets a red for his antics at half time meaning Barcelona have no back up keeper this game and will need to draft someone in for the second game.
Pepe’s red was a no brainer. Late, high, studs up, straight leg. That’s a leg breaker.
And now Mourinho’s out. Not going to be surprised if there’s another red flashed before this is over.
Not much actual decent play happening unfortunately.
So now Mourinho is sitting in the front row 10 yards from the Real bench passing notes to staff on the bench! No idea how they can allow this.
Messi gets his 10th Champions League goal in 11 games this year. Unbelievable. Barca have a priceless away goal but their biggest concern now is an even up red card or a dubious penalty call.
And Messi makes it a goal a game, A GOAL A GAME, in Champions League this season. 2-0 Barcelona and the game gets the flash of brilliance that it needed to help overcome the tedious of off the ball incidents that had defined it to this point.
A huge win for Barcelona. Puyol leaves the field with a game ball in his hands, the modern equivalent of a scalp for a Catalan leaving Madrid with three points.