Match Recap: Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona

28 Oct

tumblr_ne1x6zYgwF1tvk8meo3_1280400 million. That is the estimated number being reported as the viewership for this Clasico. Amazing, no? Want to know what I find really amazing? Neither Pepe nor Ramos logged a single foul in this game. NOT. A. ONE. In a Clasico. All hail the gods for such blessings. I count this statistic as a double win for Los Blancos. I may actually be more proud of this than the actual win. Only just a little though.

So I have the pleasure and agony of subbing in on this recap for watishista mygypsyspirit who had a previous engagement to run around for 11 miles yelling “I…AM…SPARTA” for glory. Mmmmm, what’s that? That’s not what they do at these Spartan events? Oh. Seems like an opportunity missed then. If you can’t get all comically “300” at every opportunity, what is the point of this movie even existing?

Pre-Match:

Before I get to all the game goodies, let’s cover some of the other news / drama preceding the match. The preoccupying news was whether or not the match should be stopped if Messi broke the La Liga all-time scoring record. Don’t know about ya’ll, but I found this discussion ridiculous. Of course you don’t stop the match. And I’d say the same regardless of the player and the place. Blustery old men being blustery for the sake of being blustery make me want to bluster too. But, I shall spare you my bluster and blow along.

tumblr_ne1x6zYgwF1tvk8meo2_1280The next biggest news was the continued absence of Gareth in the squad due to his bum injury. He was up in the box though taking it all in, while wearing a rather shiny belt buckle. I debated with a friend if it was an “S” or a “G”, until we realized it really didn’t matter. Cowboy chic on a Welsh boy in Madrid is just wrong on so many levels.

Joining Gareth sky high in the stadium was a lil’ wee bit we don’t see very often (aka not at all).

http://instagram.com/p/uoXwx9Q7cC/

Proud papa Toni referred to Leon as his “personal talisman” after the game, and, well, I may have “ahhhhh-ed” for a minute or two. A few other wee bits were in attendance too, such as Salome “Hips” Rodriguez, Cris Jr, and baby Isco Jr.

Before the game, The Peez presented Raúl with a watch and a signed jersey to honour the upcoming 20th anniversary of his first-team debut (October 29 is the official date). The following video was played in the stadium prior to the team walkouts:

Mmm, let’s see. What else? What else? Oh yeah, Suarez’ 4-month ban for biting Chiellini during the World Cup officially expired the previous night making him available for selection. I, for one, did not care if he played or not. The feed I was watching made the comment that Suarez was destined to play this Clasico. Really? Destined? Puh-lease. Commentators are such knobs at times (or in the case of Sky Sports all the time).

Lineups:

Barcelona: Bravo, Suárez, Mascherano, Busquets, Pique, Mathieu, Messi, Alves, Neymar, Iniesta, Xavi (C)

Real Madrid: Casillas (C), Ramos, Pepe, Kroos, Benzema, Cristiano, James, Isco, Carvajal, Marcelo, Modric

The warm-ups were uneventful, though I was a wee bit concerned with Marcelo’s overly-nonchalant demeanour.

James looked like he was going to vomit.

Iker got all enigmatic in the tunnel. Crossed arms. Slight nod of the head. Smile.

Was he looking at his sunshine Martin, or was he perhaps remembering this little moment with Hierro from earlier?

Out came the boys and wait…where are th mascots? Aren’t there suppose to be mascots? The game hadn’t even started and I was already worked up.

Out came the managers. First Brendan Rodgers, now Luis Enrique. Just what are Flotsam and Jetsam up to that they elicit such comical facial reactions from opposing managers of late?

And just how magnificent did the stadium look and sound just prior to the game starting? This magnificent:

tumblr_ne0fqpXFWN1qiy96so1_500

(Scroll over the vine and hit the audio button in the bottom right for the sound to kick in.)

First Half:

The game started with all the determined passing expected of Barcelona. Ping. Ping. Pingpingpingping. James triggered the first ‘true’ attack with a long ball to Isco who couldn’t quite get it under control. Barcelona proceeded with a couple more Barca-esque passing routines. Then Xavi pulled a Xavi, sending a quick pass through to Suárez on the right who then crossed the ball over to a wide open Neymar.

Grrrrr. That was not suppose to happen. Weak marking there on Neymar, a mistake Dani worked valiantly to make up for the rest of the game. Had he not run into Pepe there I kinda think he would have gotten down to block the shot. Then again, no, Dani would have blocked it. 0-1.

Ronaldo won a free-kick and proceeded to send his offering into the wall. Given how intense he looked preparing for it I half expected it to burst into flames upon contact with his foot.

The ball broke nicely to Isco though who sent in a cross for Benzema. He beat Bravo to it but Bravo managed to get just enough to send it wide. The cat was on the prowl.

90161163-aa06-4ce8-b6b2-16a573b2981b-620x372Messi went down rather softly, I say, under a challenge from a pirouetting Isco to win a free-kick. Which was easily cleared. Then Messi produced a rather poor tackle on Modric.

6adba3ce-658d-49eb-a4ed-0c3dc5653957-620x456Deserving of yellow? Possibly, but ref said no. That was not the case a couple minutes later when Messi went in late with a high boot and took out Kroos in the middle of the pitch. Huh. Who picked Messi to get the first yellow card of the match?

Then the boys had a rather nifty spell of possession. Marcelo did well to get past four Barca players on the left and send a beauty of a pass into the 6-yard box for Benz who…timed his run a second too early. The ball, albeit slightly deflected, went agonizingly just behind him.

Dani picked up the clearance and passed to James on the right. He sent in a great cross to Benz but Pique got to it first. James grabbed the ball, quickly exchanged a pass with Dani then sent in another cross which, by the reaction on Benz’s face, seemed to just whiz past the top of his head. It was early in the game but the James-Dani link-up was working all kinds of might.

Someone got a little handsy with Sergio early on. Unsurprisingly, Sergio pulled up on his run once contact was made.
e861c703-be8d-4a3c-8e21-510f31b86faa-1020x680Having had enough of the shenanigans on the right, Ronaldo pulsed down the left and unleashed a nicely weighted cross to Benz who…

AHHHH!! AHHHH!! Off the woodwork. Twice. Sniff, sniff. Why must you do this to us, Benz?

Dani and Neymar did a little improvised two-step in front of the Barca box before Neymar went down clutching his teeth. Yup, his teeth. Ref was having none of it though. So Neymar proceeded to dole out his own brand of justice by deliberately elbowing Dani in the face while challenging for a high ball. Yellow card, Neymar. Dani was unperturbed; no doubt his beard absorbed most of the blow. I guess that is one reason to keep it along with the Bart Simpson hairdo. *Shrugs* Can’t really think of another.

Iker was having a rather leisurely time of it up to this point. Then Suárez decided to pull out a power run down the left. He whipped in a smart pass to Messi who broke in behind Pepe and Dani. Iker managed to get down and tip the shot out of play, much to the orgasmic joy of all those who matter.

e6c22315-98e5-4945-af02-31925dcae07c-1020x475Now, it wouldn’t be a Clásico without a little tête-à-tête between Ronaldo and Busquets. Ronaldo powered down the left, then clattered into Busquets who was blocking his path just inside the box. Crissy wanted a penalty. Didn’t get it. Instead, he had to endure this. Poor guy.

2d5d30b0-4a79-40cc-9515-7738597b27f5-1020x612Do you remember earlier when I said Dani would have blocked Neymar’s shot which led to Barca’s goal? If you didn’t, I just reminded you. And so did Dani, as he had blocked not only another Neymar chance by this point but everyone else coming down the right. This boy. I have thoughts of him and Jordi Alba transforming into power wing-backs for the Spanish NT. It won’t ever happen, but I have thoughts.

So, no penalty on the Ronaldo-Busquets encounter but, hey, Pique to the rescue! He managed to produce not one but two handballs in quick succession. The first happened after Ronaldo’s header hit his arm. Maybe a penalty, maybe not. The second, well, if you’re going to use your hands to block a shot then a penalty is going to be the result. Just sayin’.

Pique with the yellow and Ronaldo with the penalty kick. I felt this had all the drama of a new-fashioned Texas duel. On the one side, the player on a nuclear-hot goal-scoring streak for the past 10 games. On the other, the goalkeeper on a nuclear-hot goal-saving streak for the past 755 minutes. But no way was Cris missing this one. 1-1.

I do not know what instructions Sergio was passing on here afterwards. Discuss.

Modric took another hit, this time from a mildly frustrated Iniesta. For those of you counting, that was now 4 yellows for Barca and 0 for us. Can you say discipline? Did it take a couple tries to say it non-haltingly? No? Just me then.

Before the end of the half, Marcelo nonchalantly made his way to the edge of Barca’s box again, and sent in a lovely cross which Pique nicely missed. Thanks P! But then James forgettably missed with his gifted header from 10 yards out. Harumph. Okay, okay, headers are not really James’ forte so I shall forgive Guy Smiley this time.

And time.

Second Half:

 

What a vibrating first half, no? The play was electric and the dramatics were kept to a relative minimum. So good, so good. To quote a viewer quoted in The Guardian, “The defending in this match actually has been quite good given that both teams are essentially playing with eight attackers and two defenders.” Truth.

And the electricity continued right into the second half, with James and Benz teaming up to test Bravo again. Suárez popped up with a mazy run only to be cut down by Modric. No yellow on the play but gotta say, I think there should have been. But since the ref seemed to be giving out one freebie per player, only fair Modric was let off the hook.

Then a counterattack by Benz and Ronaldo led to a corner which led to…GOAL!!! Pepe! Pepe? Pepe!

As Ray Hudson commentated, “[Pepe] rises like a beautiful salmon out of a fresh summer stream. He peels away clearly like tissue on a toilet roll.” Umm, yeah. Okay.

Not to take anything away from Pepe, but that was woeful defending by Mascherano and company. I counted 7 Barca players in the box and only one (barely) moved. Oh well, better them then us. 2-1.

Our defenders were still being excellent, turning away Suarez, Neymar, and Messi challenges in succession. However, a poor clearance led to a clear chance for Mathieu who unleashed this thunderbastard:

San Iker! Yes! Yes! He frustrates me at times, but when it comes to making a snap reaction save like this he is still one of the best.

Ronaldo unfortunately took one in the face for the team thereafter from an Alves shot. He seemed okay and no blood was seen, proving yet again you cannot get blood from a stone.

Barca decided to use the resulting corner as an opportunity to sub Rakitic on for Xavi. Marcelo continued being nonchalant.

It was a fortuitous substitution, as the corner delivery from Rakitic was poor and set in motion this beauty of an Isco hussle in the sixtieth minute:

And GOAL!!! Brilliant. Just bloody effing brilliant.

Play of the match for me. Benz letting it roll to James rather than attempting an initial strike showed yet again what a good understanding the attackers are developing with each other. Me gots the chills on that play. Seriously. I had the flu Saturday (& Sunday & Monday). There were corresponding chills.

These two were so excited.
tumblr_inline_ne3hqogzO61su88p6
Iker was happy too.

4de44948-51af-45b6-bfb7-4fc84e04da2b-1020x612Enrique, not so much.

3-1 with 30 minutes to go. I didn’t feel the game was over at that point. Then Barca decided to pull Suárez and put in Pedro. Then I felt more confident. That, and the boys looked like they were going to score every time they streamed forward. Which was constantly by this time.

Iniesta went down with a leg issue and had to be subbed off in the 72th minute. Sounds like he’ll be out for 3-4 weeks with a calf injury. Sergio Roberto took his place. A spot of trouble just after, with Messi and Neymar linking up in the Real box but thankfully the latter whiffed his shot. Iker, not happy.

Dani then received a yellow for a rather unnecessary foul on Mathieu. Suppose it was too much to ask for a clean game in this regard. Barca started to pick up more momentum, but again Sergio and Pepe shut the plays down before they got too dangerous. Sergio, in particular, was impressive throughout the match. Safe to say he has fully recovered from his injury.

Ten minutes to go and it was time to start locking down the midfield. Isco was subbed for Illaramendi at 84′, Benz for Sami at ’87, and Modric for Arbeloa at 89′. Quite an ovation was granted to Isco. Wonderful to see and hear.

tumblr_ne0sy4ZpoN1s7kn1go3_400Three minutes of added time. Just enough time for Dani to foul Neymar and give away a free-kick just outside the box. Thankfully, no second yellow there. Messi wasted the free-kick to the delight of the stadium. It was not his night, though I kind of expected it. His role is changing at Barca and the growing pains are obvious. Good for us, bad for them.

And just enough time for Ronaldo to execute a lovely donkey kick on Alves. Pay back for the face shot, perhaps?

Yellow card to Cris, but who cares? Final whistle! VICTORY!

This win put us temporarily into second, just one point behind Barca. Sevilla won on Sunday, which put them equal with Barca on points and bumped us down to third. Exciting times in La Liga right now. The 1st place and 5th place teams are separated by just 2 points! Eeck!

Next up is Copa del Rey action vs UD Cornella on Wednesday, and Granada on Saturday. No rest for excellence.

Match Photos:

Post Match Comments:

(from realmadrid.com)

Ancelotti:

“I’m satisfied with these players because of the unique amount of dedication and professionalism they put into their work. They are able to concentrate, they follow instructions and the playing philosophy. It is difficult to compare them to other teams, but I think this is a very serious squad”.

“The defensive problems have nothing to do with quality, but rather sacrifice, eagerness to run and work together. I have very serious and professional players who know what it means to work for Real Madrid and make sacrifices for the team”.

What he liked most
“The effort we put in stands out. We didn’t lose our heads after going a goal behind. We stuck to our plan and everything worked out well. I liked a lot of things about the team today. We played very well and at a high tempo”.

“We stuck to the same plan, not only attacking on the break but also keeping possession. We showed we had chances to win the game in the first half. And we won the encounter in the second half because we wanted it so much”.

“We’re in very good form, I don’t know if I’ve found the perfect formula or not. In the coming games there will be difficult moments and if we lose a match it doesn’t mean that we’ve lost the formula. The physical aspect is very important and we are playing at a very high tempo. We’re also in good mental shape”.

Collective work
“Isco’s work rate was fantastic. To beat Barcelona in the way we have, we need everyone to work hard. It’s difficult to say who the best was, everyone played to a very high level. It wasn’t easy to recover with just two and a half days after the Liverpool game. That means we are in very good physical shape. Today we can talk about Benzema, just as we can talk about all the players”.

The win
“It is important because we played against a very strong team, a difficult team. We have reduced the points gap in the table, which was our objective and we’re all really satisfied”.

Gameplan
“We still have the same idea as last year. We’re trying to improve our play and everything is coming off well. The team is used to playing this way and I know that we can play like this”.

Bale
“I’ve said it a number of times. He is a hugely important player and when he is fit he will play. I don’t just think about 11 players, we have a lot more”.

Pepe:

“The most important thing was the work we put in as a team. We executed it really well. We conceded an early goal but we had the strong, winning mentality to change the course of the game. We reacted well and we controlled the match. We deserved to win.”

“We are full of hunger and we want to do well to give the fans plenty to shout about. Since yesterday, when we dropped our cars off at the Bernabéu, the fans have supported us at all times and have been important. Coming out of Valdebebas this afternoon, there were people cheering us and at the stadium the fans were always right behind us. We have to thank them for that.”

Marcelo:

“We know that they wanted the ball, but we fought hard and we ended up with possession of the ball and control of the match. We played very well. The secret was running and fighting. Hard work.”

“The fans were incredible. A lot of people were also outside the stadium supporting us. We know that the matches against Barcelona are difficult. They scored early, but we had done our homework and we managed to get more possession of the ball. It’s three points and we have got closer in the table.”

Control
“They scored early, but we had done our homework and we managed to get more possession of the ball. It’s three points and we have got closer in the table.”

Run of form
“We’re in really good form. We have to improve a few little things, but the coaching staff are doing a really good job. I think that defence begins with the forwards and it helps, because the opponents almost have nothing left in the tank when they attack us. We’ve got the three points, which was the important thing.”

Ramos:

“It’s just three points but an encounter with Barcelona is different. We took a big step forward by winning and doing so in the manner we did, with a great deal of sacrifice and hard work. It was a Real Madrid that controlled possession a lot and read the phases of the game well. The scoreline is fair”.

“We won with a lot of authority. Normally we use the counter-attacks to hurt a team like Barcelona but today we were able to move up into the opposition half and keep the ball, which is when they suffered most. It was a very big effort by the team and we’re going home happy to have closed the gap and won in this way”.

“We had a clear idea that we wanted to dominate the match. Today was a day to enjoy and things happened for us. It was a pretty complete game by us. They’re not used to being dominated and we hurt them”.

Casillas and Isco
“I’m not surprised by the saves Casillas made. He’s an insurance policy for us. Players like Isco should be congratulated, they have been getting less game time and whenever they go on they make the most of it. Isco is a unique player and his brilliance and magic is great for us”.

Fans
“It has been an unforgettable day, of the kind that stays with you. From the first moment on the bus, the expectation was huge. We want to thank the fans for their affection and what they transmitted to us. We’re happy that we can offer this victory to the supporters”.

Carvajal:

“After Barcelona’s goal we thought we couldn’t let the game get away from us, and it didn’t. Matches go through many phases. We’re a team that also likes to control possession and there were moments when we took it from Barcelona”.

“In the end we were comfortable playing on the counter-attack, because they left spaces. We have come out stronger from this game and on Wednesday we head to the Cornellà. Today was just three points and let’s get on with it”.

(media courtesy of various outlets and tumblrs, such as GF Sports, The Guardian, Getty Images, and realmadrid.com)

¡Hala Madrid!

-hopechaser

11 Responses to “Match Recap: Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona”

  1. Charlie Chaz October 28, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

    A fantastic match recap for a fantastic match!

    Also…did not catch the Luis on Sergio crotch gran during the game…this does not bode well for him not accosting people on the Spainish league…game 1 and there is already inappropriate touching….

    • headbandsandheartbreak October 28, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

      He’s not good at keeping his body parts to himself, that’s for sure. At least Sergio has teammates who constantly have their hands on his junk so it probably barely phased him. The perks of being a part of Team Show Me On The Doll. 😉

      We were in the pub watching the game and everyone went nuts when we saw that. I yelled “Suarez, that ain’t your job! That’s the job of every woman in Madrid.” and we all cracked up. Suarez was just livin’ the dream. 😉

      But seriously, his lack of discipline in his first game back after the ban was surprising. It’s just a matter of time before he has another one of his tantrums and acts out. I honestly don’t believe that he’s going to turn over a new leaf. It’s a shame he’s so despicable because he’s a wonderful player but his behavior overshadows everything.

      • hopechaser October 29, 2014 at 11:48 am #

        I didn’t think Suarez’ movements were that undisciplined; thought he was tentative at times actually, not wanting to do too much. He’ll be in an “okay” mindset at the start, like last year, but once he gets going in the league the pressure will build.

        • headbandsandheartbreak October 29, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

          I wasn’t talking about his movement when I mentioned his lack of discipline. I was referring to his on pitch behavior. I wouldn’t call grabbing and squeezing an opponent’s junk disciplined esp. considering that he’s well known for his anger management issues. He’s not starting out on a good path. If he can’t control himself, he’s doomed to repeat the past.

          • hopechaser October 29, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

            Oh, I knew what you were referring to. 🙂 How he behaves tho seems intrinsically tied to how he presents his physicality and then how his physical presence is blocked or dealt with by an opponent. So that’s what I was watching for. I just felt the inappropriate touching here was just inappropriate, and more resulting from him trying to assert his speed in the normal roll of a game then anything egregious. Costa and RvP have pulled these types of moves too. Not that I think what he did was right, but I was more focused on the totality of his moves in the game and how they could/have built to actions like biting.

    • hopechaser October 29, 2014 at 11:54 am #

      I didn’t see it initially either, just in the replay. I get that hands and arms do make inappropriate contact with body parts at times in the heat of the battle. But this seemed, I don’t know, aggressive? Maybe I read too much into it.

  2. mygypsyspirit October 28, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I can’t believe I scheduled that race for Clasico weekend! I’m such an idiot! Anyway, I did yell “I… AM… SPARTAN!!” quite a few times. I also offered “warm hugs” to random people while I was covered in mud.

    I still haven’t seen the match! School work is keeping me from getting much else done right now. I can’t wait to watch though!

    Thank you again!

    • hopechaser October 29, 2014 at 11:51 am #

      You’re welcome! You’re welcome! You’re welcome!

      You did? Excellent! Seemed incredulous people wouldn’t but I was told it was a very serious event and I shouldn’t make fun. Words I obviously heeded. Hehehe. 🙂

  3. Ana October 29, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    Thank you so much for a brilliant re-cap, must have taken you ages! I’m loving every chance I get to relive that match! it’s so brilliant too that we played such a clean game, it was a joy to watch. Every player was up for the win but I felt sorry for James who looked so desperate to score, maybe next time!

  4. hopechaser October 29, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    Thanks, and yes, there were more than a few hours involved. 😉 But with a spirited game like this you make the sacrifice. And James not scoring was a bit sad but he sure enjoyed every goal celebration as if he did!

    • jellyace October 29, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

      Speaking of Juggy James…GUY SMILEY!!! On. The. Nose!

      Great recap, hopechaser!

      And I am so thrilled the my Isco Cutie Pie played so magnificently that he got an ovation from the tough crowd at the Bernabeu!

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