The First Half
A game that ended very interesting found Real Madrid taking the 3-1 at the end of it all. Early in the first half, it seemed Los Blancos weren’t playing nearly as well as they did against Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup final. It took quite a while before Luis Suarez took the first shot that was saved by Keylor Navas. There was a lot of back-and-forth between the two sides and chances on both ends, but it seemed like Barcelona was the better side in the first half. A notable Real standout in the first half was Isco, yet again, who used his footwork and dribbling skills to outsmart those in charge of defending him. He created several chances, but didn’t find himself rewarded this time around.
Perhaps the man of the first half, and ultimately the man of the match, was Mateo Kovacic. He was all over the pitch and was a driving force behind Madrid’s offense all game. 20 minutes into the match, we saw our first of many bookings in the game. Casemiro was shown a yellow card for taking down Lionel Messi. Another yellow came shortly after, but this time against Barcelona. Pique, doing his best Maradona impression, was carded for handball in the Madrid box as he attempted to punch it into the net.
Most of the momentum seemed to belong to Barca in the first half with the Madrid defense and Navas having to come up big several times. Suarez was a huge player for Barca throughout the first and second half, creating several chances and generating shots. The momentum didn’t stay this way continuing into the second half, however.
The Second Half
The action quickly heated up by the bookings of three different players. Bale, Messi, and Carvajal were all given yellow cards right after the half just started. In the 49th minute, Real would have their first goal and lead of the match.
It was a good pass from Marcelo that sent the ball into Pique, which ended up behind Ter Stegen. The next ten minutes saw the action amp up with missed chances on both sides. The first was Gerard Deulofeu who sent his shot just wide of Navas. On the other side of the pitch was Carvajal which looked like a sure goal, but went just over the crossbar.
In the 58th minute, Madrid made their first substitution with Benzema coming off for Ronaldo, who made quite a difference. 10 minutes later Zidane swapped Kovacic for Asensio, who also made a difference. With yet another chance for Suarez, he dove, shocking. While writhing in pain, Captain Ramos went to check on the Uruguayan striker. An absolute gentleman.
Ramos helping Suarez after his dive. Omg pic.twitter.com/TDTwfYWP4G— Kay (@Bernabeu_Babe) August 13, 2017
The ref awarded Barcelona with a penalty kick, which was to be taken by Messi. Unsurprising, Messi put it behind Keylor and evened the score at 1-1 in the 77th minute of play. Just three minutes later, Ronaldo retook the lead at 2-1 for Madrid with an absolute bullet of a strike.
If I'm Christiano Ronaldo I'm taking my shirt off like this after every goal pic.twitter.com/AJYua6TAwe— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) August 13, 2017
Ronaldo proceeded to take off his shirt, á la Messi, in celebration of this stunner. For his actions, he was given a yellow card from the referee. A minute later, Madrid used their final substitution by swapping Bale for Lucas Vasquez. Things took a turn for the weird when Ronaldo was given a second yellow by the referee and ejected from the match. He believed Ronaldo dove on a tackle in the box, which probably should’ve been a penalty kick, and rewarded him with a red card instead. CR7 was having none of that while giving the ref a quick shove before leaving the pitch.
Playing with only 10 men now, Madrid carried on the pressure. In the final minute of normal time, Asensio delivered his own cannon of a strike into the back of Barcelona’s net.
He would further the Blancos lead to 3-1 and put the final nail in this match’s coffin. With this being an away game, Madrid has the advantage of going into the second leg with an even bigger lead because of the away goals rule. This could and should seal the deal for the team going into Wednesday’s game. Overall, the team started slow in the first half but found their groove in the second. Even with Ronaldo being red carded, this team should be going into the 2nd leg with a head full of confidence. Going into it with a 3-1 and the away goal advantage, should bolster this confidence even more.