If the season in Spain needed a kick start and the opening weekend wasn’t enough, the first Clasico of the season between Barcelona and Real Madrid for the Spanish Supercopa did the trick, with Cristiano Ronaldo opening the scoring, Pedro, Lionel Messi and Xavi answering back before Angel Di Maria made it (3-2) very interesting for the second leg next week.
How was Lionel Messi? OK, nothing sensational. Had a couple of misses, one really big one in the second half which was immediately punished by Angel Di Maria on the other end, taking advantage of Victor Valdes’ hesitation to clear the ball and give Real Madrid their second goal of the match, losing an acceptable 3-2 for a Super Cup first leg.
How was Cristiano Ronaldo? In truth, during the first half we almost forgot he was playing. He scored a header out of nowhere from the corner kick and went back to doing practically nothing, getting noticed again in the closing minutes of the match, fouling Lionel Messi with an arm to the ribs and immediately complaining to the referee that he was using his elbow.
If the Supercopa clasicos from last season were all fire and embers, this one was much calmer. As if there was a joint decision to take it easy from the beginning this time. Real Madrid’s first league win over Barcelona calmed things down between the sides, also helped by fantastic refereeing from Clos Gómez, who simply refused to let all the diving and provocations on both sides ruin the match and escalate the tension levels throughout the enjoyable 90 minutes.
In terms of football, there was nothing new. A few minutes here and there of attempted pressure from Real Madrid and immediately falling back to defend like crazy. Barcelona possession, but not enough deep presence, with the lack of a true striker on the pitch sometimes being too obvious. There were long stretches in the first half when Real Madrid players didn’t even try to retain any kind of possession. Simply clear the ball and go back to defending. It almost paid off.
The second half was a bit more open. Real Madrid looked for goals, and they didn’t suffer for it. It seemed both sides just tried to do what was comfortable for them, with a bit of individual brilliance here and there to shake things up, especially from Andres Iniesta with a beautiful dribble and assist to Xavi in Barcelona’s third goal.
The feeling that the bulldozer press they were working near the end of the match was too much for Real, but one fantastic one on one save from Casillas and one terrible mistake from Valdes 20 seconds later made the result tell a bit of a different story from what actually happened on the pitch.