Madrid gets deserved win, Barça´s defense in crisis
Real Madrid and Barcelona played an intense game this Tuesday, with the ‘Merengues’ being the better team over the 90 minutes. Mourinho got probably his biggest win at Camp Nou since he took over Madrid in 2010.
Barcelona started better, with Messi missing a clear chance in the first two minutes. The ‘Cules’ good moment did not last long and it ended when Piqué clearly fouled Cristiano inside the area for the penalty. Since Madrid’s first goal, Barcelona could not find a way to penetrate Real Madrid’s defense.
Messi and Xavi were not able to lead Barça´s attacking game. It seemed at some moments that the Argentine was hogging the ball too much, but he is Messi and he is practically free to do what he wants. The Argentine played a subpar match and it seemed like the rest of the team was infected by his ineffectiveness. Even Iniesta, who played a little better, failed to bring any danger to Madrid’s area. Cesc Fabregas was the worst of Barcelona’s attack, he was erratic in the passes and looked off place several times.
On the other side, Madrid played a simple but effective game, blocking Barcelona’s attacking attempts and doing quick counterattacks, taking advantage of Barça’s holes in defense. Mourinho’s boys punched and scored at the right time twice, when Barcelona was creating more danger and putting more pressure, at the 13th and at the 57thminutes. Both plays came after Barcelona lost the ball in Madrid’s area and the players were not in a good position to neutralize the counterattack by the ‘Merengues,’ who obtained a much deserved win.
Special mention to Angel Di Maria who played well and made a nice run and play in Madrid’s second goal. Ronaldo gets a high note because of his two goals, but his shots were not as dangerous as usual. However, he was once again Madrid’s most active player upfront, contrary to Higuaín, who besides setting the long pass to Ronaldo to get the penalty, did not do much.
Overall, the match had a lot of similarities with the game Barcelona played against Milan last week in the Champions League. The Catalans are lacking power upfront and their attacking midfield is not creating many scoring chances lately. With this situation, it is difficult to understand Villa’s continuous absence in the starting lineup, when he is clearly showing he has recovered his form and scores every time he is subbed in.
It is alarming the moment Barcelona’s defense is going through. Even though rival teams don’t attack them that much, they have allowed goals in each of their last 12 matches; something that differs a lot from the previous seasons under Guardiola, when Barcelona had one of the lowest number of goals scored against in Europe. This weakness in defense has cost them the Copa and could cost them the Champions League after losing 2-0 in the first leg against Milan.
The elimination of Barcelona is a breath of fresh air for Real Madrid, who appears to have given up on the league title and has a difficult task against Manchester United in Champions League. The balance at the end of the season will definitely look completely different after knocking out the ‘Blaugranas’ in Copa del Rey and much better if they end up winning this tournament.
There will be a new ‘Clasico’ played this Saturday with a very different scenario as the league is practically decided on Barcelona’s favor and both teams separated by 16 points. It would not be a surprise if Mourinho decides to sit some usual starters to have them rested for the crucial Champions League match against Manchester United. Undoubtedly the expectations and atmosphere before this weekend’s match will be much lower than today’s Copa game.