FC BARCELONA 1 - REAL MADRID 1
It is very likely that in any possible worlds Barcelona had eliminated Real Madrid. Basically, it plays better football and that way is still shorter. However, we were left not knowing how Barcelona would have faced the disadvantage of a Madrid's goal in minute 48. Annulling that goal, the referee also annulled the possible exploits of Real Madrid. At the same time, this "mistake" charged of reasons those who report referees' aids to Barcelona. Since last night will have a final example, as clear and decisive as the Pepe's send-off.
From this point of view, the worst happened to football. In an indisputable play and without shadows, the Belgian De Bleeckere bent by the most twisted interpretation: Cristiano's fault on Mascherano due to an inadvertent slip, caused also by Piqué's fault on Cristiano. No matter if the referee blew before Higuain scored, because forward and goalkeeper were applied to the fullest and their duel ended in a goal. Never mind that the best chances, until then, had belonged to Barcelona, with dominance and play. From that moment, was drawn a different match and a much more interesting argument for the epic and for the show, was left. From that moment, the match, and by extension the tie, admits an analysis that moves away from football; the more moderate call it distress, and the boldest conspiracy. We will never know what would have happened if Mourinho had not been slain after the Pepe's send-off and we will never have news of the match played at the Camp Nou with Real Madrid ahead.
Which showed the fourth Classic was that teams can play against Barcelona bravely, without any further punishment than being a coward. The final draw dignified the performance of Real Madrid which yesterday played attacking (as far as possible), and in foreign field, survived to a cross-kickback that would have broken the waist of a giant. It's a shame that the excuses (reasonable) surround football again. Neither football deserve it, nor the sweat of Madrid. Nor it is fair for the players, who yesterday made a great effort and it is a pity that the final Guardiola had prepared, the happy return of Abidal, was the icing on a bitter cake.
Just talking about football, Mourinho decided to use Kaka and Higuain in the starting lineup, looking for more chances on goal and frequent passing. The Whites pressurised from the start, running to cover all open spaces and chasing all Barcelona players around. This disconcerted the locals in the opening minutes; Real Madrid's efforts on Camp Nou's incredibly fast pitch were extraordinary, as evidenced by Lass and Xabi Alonso's work in defence.
Neither side had chances to score in the first half-hour, but things got crazy in the last 15 minutes of the first half when Barcelona came close to tallying strikes four times through Messi (twice), Villa and Pedro, forcing Casillas to showcase all his quality to save the day. Despite being besieged by Guardiola's men, Real Madrid kept looking to score and came close when Cristiano Ronaldo crossed the ball smack in the centre of the box following a fast counterattack, but Valdes reached it just before Di Maria.
Then, the controversy play, three minutes into the second half: Cristiano Ronaldo was tackled by Pique and made Mascherano trip just as Higuain controlled the ball and scored a strike. Referee De Bleeckere disallowed it, deciding Ronaldo had fouled the Barcelona defender. This crucial decision was followed only six minutes later by Barcelona's goal, which was netted by Pedro following an assist from Iniesta.
Adebayor then came on for Higuain and, on the 60-minute mark, Ozil replaced Kaka. Madrid had to try it all to score. Di Maria reached the goal moments later, hitting the post. The ball landed back on his feet and served it to Marcelo, who managed to defeat Valdes. The Camp Nou was silenced and the game was on. The Madridistas had 26 minutes in which to try the turnaround and they constantly persisted in their search for more goals. Meanwhile, Barcelona's intention was to keep possession for as long as possible in order to lower the pace to Madrid's game, and Guardiola replaced striker Villa with Keita to add muscle to his midfield.
The clock was ticking and Real Madrid still needed two goals. Barcelona decided to wait for them in their half of the pitch, looking for the occasional counterattack with which to seal the match. The dream to reach the final slowly started to fade, but in the end Real Madrid were true to their 109-year history and fought to the very end.
Stadium: Camp Nou
Goals: 1-0, m.54: Pedro. 1-1, m.64: Marcelo,