It wasn't the pitch. It wasn't the referee. This match was all about the collective effort and the brilliant performances from Diego López, Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao, Alonso, Khedira, Di María, Özil, Higuaín, Essien, Pepe, Callejón and a superhuman: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Undeniable performance by Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. Jose Mourinho, the players and the rest of the coaching staff made a powerful statement by winning the match 1-3 and 2-4 in the aggregate. It'd be unfair to say that Raphäel Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo won this tie, but both of them were the players Real Madrid relied on during the 180 minutes. The French man single-handedly kept Madrid alive in the first leg by defending Messi and scoring the equalizer. This Tuesday he scored again and erased Messi's presence from the Camp Nou.
FC Barcelona started the game really well, and they even had a very good chance in the first minute in Messi's feet. Unfortunately for the team, the ball didn't go in. In the 13th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo received a ball in Barcelona's part of the field without any support from his teammates. And he still was capable of dribbling past Piqué, who clearly commited a penalty. Real Madrid's own Ballon D'Or scored from the spot, and the team then started to feel much more comfortable defensively. Cristiano Ronaldo has already scored in 6 consecutive Clásicos played away from the Bernabéu. And he's still questioned by the press and some fans.
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Barcelona had only one shot on target that came from distance and by Sergio Busquets. Jordi Alba and Barcelona's only goal came in the 89th minute when the tie was already over, so the team's defensive work was simply dominant. Di María completed one of his best games as a Real Madrid player thanks to his work without the ball, not to mention his run and dribble on Puyol in Real's second goal. Marcelo is in deep trouble, as Coentrao showed how good of a left back he can be. Arbeloa isn't much of an offensive presence, but he still played with a yellow card throughout 52 minutes, having to stop Alba and Iniesta. Varane and Ramos were really focused and received very important helps from Alonso and Khedira. It was a brilliant tactical work by Mourinho and his staff and a great execution by the players, simply put.
When Ronaldo and Madrid's second goal came in the 58th minute, Barcelona started to push it a lot more. They needed to score three goals in just 30 minutes, but Real Madrid kept playing really well defensively and preventing Barcelona from having a single chance to score against Diego López. Özil managed to get a corner-kick minutes later and left some room for Varane to rise again. He's still 19 years old, he plays center back and scored two goals in his first two games against Barcelona. Impressive, to say the least.
Seeing players like Mesut Özil working defensively as much as they did today says a lot about Mourinho's motivational skills. The players deserve the credit, but so does Mourinho. If he's responsible for the team's bad performances in La Liga, the same goes for this game.
Real Madrid will now have a good chance of winning the Copa del Rey title against either Sevilla or Atlético. The fans should rejoyce. The players made a statement.
Who was the Man of the Match?
Coentrao (3 votes)
Di María (66 votes)
Varane (84 votes)
Ronaldo (546 votes)
Other (19 votes)
718 total votes