In an entertaining and back-and-forth clash between two eternal rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona played out a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the 2011 Spanish Super Cup. Despite having to come from behind after going down 2-1, Madrid probably were the team that deserved to win more, having generated significantly more chances then their Catalan opponents.
Jose Mourinho came out with a familiar lineup for Los Blancos, starting the same eleven players as in last year's disastrous 5-0 loss at the Camp Nou. Pep Guardiola made some interesting decisions in Barcelona's starting eleven, sending out Thiago and Alexis Sanchez instead of Xavi and Pedro while Javier Mascherano and Eric Abidal started at center back and Gerard Pique began the match on the bench.
For the first twenty minutes of the game, Madrid were the dominant team in all facets of the game. Iker Casillas was able to sit back and watch as Barcelona did not even muster a single shot while Madrid created a number of quality chances. Karim Benzema saw an early shot blocked by Abidal and another header saved brilliantly by Victor Valdes. Sergio Ramos also had a solid effort towards goal, but it was blocked by Mascherano.
In the 12th minute, after several waves of intense pressure, Benzema made a beautiful move down the right flank before deftly passing the ball through Mascherano's legs to an open Mesut Ozil, who slotted the ball into the net to put Madrid up 1-0. Madrid continued to attack and almost went up 2-0 when Ronaldo saw his powerful shot saved by Valdes. Los Blancos would be left wondering how they could not muster more than one goal from so many chances.
Then, in the 35th minute, Barcelona finally managed to get off a shot on goal. It just happened to be one of the highest quality as David Villa curled the ball around Casillas into the top right corner, shocking the Santiago Bernabeu and tying the score at 1-1. The teams then failed to do much of anything for the next ten minutes until Sami Khedira inadvertently deflected the ball into Lionel Messi's path, who quickly made the score 2-1 right before the stroke of halftime.
Madrid came storming back in the second half, though. In the 53rd minute, Karim Benzema managed to gather the ball in the box after a corner kick. He laid the ball off to an open Xabi Alonso, whose low shot creeped through several defenders and past Valdes to make it 2-2.
Pep Guardiola must have been shaken by that goal, as he quickly moved to insert Xavi, Pedro, and Pique into the match. It didn't matter much though, as Madrid began to emerge as the team most likely to net a winner. Controversy struck late in the game when what appeared to be a clear penalty on Victor Valdes was not called. After Valdes made a good save, Ronaldo attempted to chase the rebound, but his legs were taken out by Valdes's arm. The referee did not see it that way, and the game continued 2-2. Barcelona also were angered late in the game when they contended Marcelo had committed a penalty on Pedro as well.
In the end, Madrid were left kicking themselves, having clearly demonstrated themselves as the better side over the last half hour but they were unable to bag a late winner. Victor Valdes could have been considered the Man of the Match as he made a number of quality saves to keep it at 2-2. Barcelona will certainly be the happier side as the two teams head into the second leg on Wednesday at the Camp Nou, where a win or a draw at 0-0 or 1-1 will be enough for the Catalans to lift the first trophy of the season.