26 January 2012

[Copa del Rey; 1/4 final; Leg2] FC Barcelona 2 - 2 Real Madrid CF (Total 4-3)

Barça drew 2-2 with Madrid in an electrifying Clasico, taking them into the semifinals of the Cup. Barça went ahead before the break with goals from Pedro and Alves, but Madrid tied up the match in the second half.


Barça are in the semifinals of the Cup after eliminating Real Madrid. The second leg of the quarter final was brutal, with a first phase with the away team on top, a second with Barça in charge, and a third of heart attack proportions where the balance could have come down on either side. In the end, a calm Barça managed the draw that made the first leg win at the Bernabeu a great result.

The game was spectacular from the beginning. Madrid, with Pepe as central defender, and booed every time he touched the ball, were far more ambitious than in the first leg, and almost scored after 15 seconds, when Higuain took advantage of a defensive lapse, but with only Pinto to beat he shot wide. In the 3rd minute, the Barça keeper stopped a shot from close range, which was later invalidated for offside from the free-kick. The Barça reply came after 8 minutes with a situation in which the referee ignored a Ramos foul on Alexis, when he was the last man. Soon after that the Chilean couldn't control a great pass from Xavi that left him in a wonderful position.

All this in ten minutes. The game was how Madrid wanted it, not controlled and physical. They threatened with very few passes. Barça, however, found it hard to find that point of calm and precision in their passing. Lady luck smiled on them from an Özil thunderbolt that hit the crossbar with Pinto beaten (min 25). Just after that the keeper gave the ball away inside the area but redeemed himself by blocking Higuain's shot. The situation became more complicated with Iniesta's injury, and he was replaced by Pedro.

Around the half hour mark, Barça regained their patience and, finally, began to dominate the game. In the opportune moment the superstar took centre stage. In minute 43, Messi took the ball in midfield and moved like lightning before slipping a through ball to Pedro, who beat Casillas from the edge of the box. There was more excitement in store. Lass got away with a clear second yellow card, but from a deflection from the resulting free-kick, Dani Alves hit an unstoppable shop into the top corner. The players went into the dressing room with the Camp Nou euphoric, and a 2-0 lead.

The fans were still enjoying the game at the start of the second half. They didn't stop singing while their team found more space and carried on attacking. Without the finesse of their best exhibitions, the Barça game was still easily recognisable. They had the ball and Madrid were suffering (with a goal disallowed from Ramos after pulling Alves shirt before heading in from a free-kick). Nobody would have predicted what might happen in the game. Two consecutive goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema, when Madrid were not playing as well as they had done, changed the whole match.

There were 20 minutes of true heart-attack football left. Moments of nervousness and tension that claimed the sending off of Sergio Ramos for two bookings towards the end of the game. Barça showed their maturity and saw out the 2-2 draw. The 2-1 recital in the first leg at the Bernabeu sent them into the semifinals of the Cup, where they'll face Valencia or Levante. (via FCBarcelona.cat)


[Match Stats]
FC Barcelona Pinto; Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta (Pedro, min.29), Cesc (Thiago, min.70), Messi; and Alexis (Mascherano, min.79).

Real Madrid Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Coentrao; Lass (Granero, min.51), Xabi Alonso; Kaká (Callejón, min.61), Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo; and Higuaín (Benzema, min.61).

Goals: 1-0, min.43: Pedro. 2-0, min.46+: Alves. 2-1. min.68: Cristiano Ronaldo. 2-2, min.71: Benzema.

Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes, Cantabrian committee. He showed yellow card to Lass (min.26), Ramos (min.33), Messi (min.45), Casillas (min.46 +), Cristiano Ronaldo (min.55), Coentrao (min.80), Barn ( min.90), Puyol (min.91), Pepe (min.91). Ramos drove in min.89, seeing the second yellow.

Incidents: The second leg of the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey match at the Camp Nou before 95,486 fans. They observed a minute silence in memory of former player of Barcelona's Juan Carlos Perez, who died a few days.