Exclusive report from Enrique Romero-Salas, ex-midfielder for Green Archers United on the Supercopa match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
MADRID – I was seated in the area of the "ultra sur" which is known for a chanting insults towards Barca more than anything. I attached a picture of their flag that covered our view when the game started.
Since the first leg was 3-2, which should have been 3-1 except for the huge error from goalkeeper Barca Victor Valdes at the 85th minute which gave Madrid a good advantage for the second leg. The game started out like it always does until Javier Mascherano committed an error trying to clear the ball which ended up with a one-on-one situation for Gonzalo Higuain whose shot went between the legs of Valdes. 1-0 RM.
A few minutes later Cristiano Ronaldo got the better of Gerard Pique with a fancy flick that lead to another one-on-one situation with Valdes. Ronaldo scored.
Down 2-0 early in the game really put Barca in a tough position which became tougher shortly after when Adriano received a red card for bringing Cristiano down (in a situation that would have led to another one on one). They replaced Alexis with Montoya, who played in Adriano's position as a right defender. This left Barcelona with fewer attacking options and with only Pedro left making most of the cuts. Leo Messi was pushed down to the midfield where they often played possession although not as dominant as the first leg but capable with only ten men but still the Real Madrid defense was tight and they had a much bigger advantage physically. The game was going really well for Madrid and they could have been up by four goals with a couple more good opportunities well saved. But just before the half ends, Messi pulled one back by scoring a beautiful free kick around the wall and past Casillas, just like that Barca needed one more goal to win the trophy. The second half was a more open game with attempts coming from both ends, unlike the first which was dominated by Real Madrid.
There were clear cut chances early in the second half from Pedro and another from Jordi Alba but Iker Casillas protected the goal really well. Real Madrid's counter attack was very effective in this game. Most of which came from the defense. Pepe, in particular, really made good passes while being a monster on defense.
Gonzalo Higuain came closest for Real who's attempt hit the post in yet another one-on-one with Valdes. Then it was Sami Khedira's turn to have a one-on-one after dribbling past three defenders but Valdes was good with his save.
An extra time attempt from Montoya could have given Barca the victory but Iker made it look easy. This game also saw Luka Modric and Alex Song debut for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. They were rivals in the English Premier League with Tottenham and Arsenal and in La Liga, they still find themselves on opposing sides. That’s how it ended, 2-1 to Real which won it by away goals.
What went wrong for Barca?
This is a lesson for Barcelona's defense which cannot mistakes like this if they want to beat Real Madrid. The absence of Puyol and Dani Alves made this more difficult. Being down ten men early, they had less options on the attack and with the position they were in, they needed a miracle to win. Cesc Fabregas did not play and David Villa is just fresh from a long injury. Although it is still amazing how they can keep that ball with one less person but that type of play did not work because Real was constantly on the counter. They had Pedro and Messi trying to go against much larger players and they had to do it repeatedly because they lacked options. Andres Iniesta was really superb but could not produce today.
What did Madrid do correctly?
Madrid has a very solid back line with Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Arbeloa. None of them made errors. When you have big men like this bumping much smaller players it makes it really hard to challenge them. That type of defense plus the speed and talent on that counter attack lead by Cristiano is will be a force this year and in the next few. Much credit to their long balls today which were very effective.
I got in touch with Kicks Romero-Salas who I know has relocated to Spain. He filed this exclusive Supercopa report for Bleachers' Brew. Thanks, Kicks! Most appreciate this.