This match dignified the Copa del Rey, a trophy that is reasonably overlooked. The atmosphere at Mestalla was simply something to experience. Both fanbases were supporting their team, and one could feel that Barcelona's fans were a notch ahead in terms of support and cheer.
Ancelotti's gameplan was all about a solid midfield. When everybody expected Real Madrid with the usual 4-3-3 formation, the Italian coach decided to play with a 4-4-2, and it worked for the first half. Benzema and Bale played upfront, and Real Madrid controlled the match brilliantly for the first 20 minutes. Di María found a big space behind Barcelona's defense and scored, but the counterattack was so good that credit should go to all players involved. Isco recovered the ball and launched the first pass, while Bale and Benzema combined great before finding Di María.
Real Madrid were up 1-0 and the gameplan suddenly changed. The defensive line moved back a few meters. Isco and Di María were having their hands full against Barcelona's fullbacks while Carvajal and Coentrao were busy against Iniesta and Neymar as well. Barcelona were finding a lot of space through the wings, but they were probably lacking a good aerial player upfront, even more after seeing Carvajal struggle on the far post.
Still, Casillas never ha to do much for most of the first half. Isco and Pepe got booked and those weren't good news for Real Madrid, especially with Barcelona having that much of the ball. Still, the first half concluded right for Real Madrid. The players clearly needed a break, especially Isco and Di María, and one could imagine Ancelotti taking a look to his bench to see what he could do to fresh his midfield line up.
For most of the second half, the game appeared to be lost. Barcelona managed to equalize the match off a brilliant header by Bartra. They couldn't create a single chance in open play but they scored off a set piece. Isco and Di María's fuel was running out, and Bale and Benzema were spending more time defending than attacking.
And then, Gareth Bale decided to make a play for the ages. He outrun Marc Bartra even though Barcelona's defender tried to stop him with a foul. It's a play that simply needs to be seen. Words can't describe it properly.
The man who joined Real Madrid for almost 100M€ decided a title. Without Real Madrid's star player. That's how you prove your value.
After that goal on the 85th minute, Ancelotti brought Varane and Casemiro in to fight and defend that lead. Neymar came really close to score the equalizer, but he hit the post and the ball fell right into Casillas' gloves after. The goalkeeper knew how close that play was and touched the post before clearing the ball. That's Casillas' old miracles appearing just in time.
Real Madrid deserved the win. They will now celebrate with the fans. And Bayern Munich are coming to town in just six days. So enjoy these few days off, because it will not be easy to play against Guardiola and his men.