Two penalties from Lionel Messi (53rd minute, 30th league goal) and Cristiano Ronaldo (82nd minute, 29th league goal) sent both teams leaving the Bernabeu with mixed emotions, satisfactions and disappointments from the second Clasico of the season.
Real Madrid stopped their five game losing streak to their arch rivals in the big game, managing to get a point of this clash for the first time since 2008. This won’t help them in their seemingly hopeless chance to catch up with Barcelona in the La Liga race (8 points lead for Barca, six matches to go). This did give Mourinho some indication on what he can and can’t do in the next matches with Barcelona. Ozil is a must. He tried to go with a bit of a defensive look, but without Ozil there’s no one to create chances for anyone playing striker (Benzema, Adebayor). The fighting spirit shown after the sending off of Raul Albiol is to be commended as well, actually looking better than Barcelona during the last twenty minutes.
There’s no change in the power struggle – there’s no doubt Barca are the better side. If they would have had a bit more passion and drive (and maybe a competent David Villa who seems to be sleep walking the last month or so) they could have closed the game before Real mounted their comeback.
More commendable? Cristiano Ronaldo tried, but his best chance came from a free kick. When he finally did manage to find himself free in the box, Adriano was there to clear with his head. The shots at goal stat was pretty even – 13 for Real, 11 for Barcelona. Both Victor Valdes and Iker Casillas were brilliant, concentrated and commanding whenever needed. Angel di Maria was dangerous, as usual, but his thought process seemed to halt any time he was in the box. Carvalho had a very good game alongside Albiol and later Pepe.
Barcelona? Come to think of it, not too many players had a good game. The biggest absentee was Andres Iniesta in my opinion, probably the most closely guarded among the Barca stars. I guess Mourinho decided putting all your effort at stopping Messi is useless. Better cut off the supply man and hope Messi doesn’t get touched by god on that day. He didn’t, and Xavi didn’t have his double trouble sidekick to compliment him.
What to take? Mourinho started a bit too defensively in my opinion. Barcelona will win possession and play pretty much the same, at least tactics wise, anywhere, anytime (75-25 in the possession game). He can’t give up on his midfield creativity. It eliminates the chance of his strikers being involved and relies too heavily on Ronaldo, something that works against most teams in the world, not Barcelona.
Barcelona? A draw was good for them. Another week of holding back Real and pretty much securing the league title if there was any doubt. I believe (and hope a little) that they’ll be looking more lively. They are the better team and can dominate it seems at will. They seem to need some kind of push. And a better Iniesta to really look brilliant.