|Cristiano Ronaldo just after scoring the victory goal|
Real Madrid wants this league, they knew it and at Barcelona already know it. Guardiola's team left the Camp Nou feeling so defeated as champion Real Madrid, that will win the title in good style, winning the opponent on his land. No excuses this time to justify the defeat, beyond their own mistakes, not for ignoring the victory. Against yesterday's FC Barcelona, more predictable, slow and confusing that we remember, Real Madrid did not fear and was nervous, and not much, when its defense line went back to its penalty area, which is in its character, but this time knew how to handle with more consistency this situation.
With seven points ahead and only twelve to play, it seems that what remains now is to choose a calendar date to be proclaimed champion. Guardiola gave the final push towards the title with a change in the Barcelona schema that led them to play with defense of three and impede clear ball moves in midfield with excessive accumulation of men. At this point, only the necessary mathematics and prudence seem to separate Real Madrid of the title.
Guardiola wanted to win the game on the board and lost it on the field. He was neglected in defense, strengthened the midfield and Barça not only changed the face, got down a gear speed in its game and the movements were confusing, less dynamic, ultimately, more predictable. Puyol, Mascherano and Adriano formed the line of three in defense. Busquets and Thiago shared the double pivot, with Xavi on the right and Iniesta on the left. And in front Alves, Messi and Tello. Far from confusing Real Madrid, this drawing slowed its movements and Barca seemed confused and dazed. The ball was for them, as usual, but was moved with less joy and they lost it with unusual frequency. In that game of mistakes with fifteen minutes on game, Busquets had two ball losses that endangered his team and earned a yellow card.
In Real Madrid, the lineup was the same that started against Bayern Munchen. Mourinho's men pressurised in attack looking for quick steals to counterattack through Di Maria and Ronaldo. They had their first chance four minutes into the game when the Portuguese striker tried to head in an Ozil corner-kick, but Valdes saved the day for the locals. Two minutes later, Alves faced Casillas alone, but the keeper snatched the ball from him with a clean sweep.
Valdes cleared a good Benzema shot on the 10-minute mark and Barcelona started to have more possession but did not have any clear chances. An Ozil corner-kick in the 17th minute resulted in the Whites' first goal: Ronaldo tried to head it in and Valdes failed to clear the ball, which landed at Puyol's feet, but the defender did not manage to clear it either and Khedira snatched it from him to tally the first strike in the match.
Barcelona upped the pace to the game and Real defended more, Xabi Alonso in particular, who gave a solid performance in defence to help Coentrao. Barcelona's best chance came when Messi passed the ball to Xavi, whose shot was slightly, but sufficiently, deflected by Casillas. Guardiola's men began to play a hasty game while still posing little threat thanks to Madrid's good defending.
There were no changes on either side after half-time. Barcelona knew failing to win would practically hand the title over to Real Madrid, who started to relax a little. The locals played touch football in search of a goal and Tello missed the target with a shot on the 57-minute mark. A messy effort in Madrid's box ended with Alexis pushing the ball in the goal and therefore netting the equaliser. The crowd roared, but Real Madrid failed to tremble and Cristiano Ronaldo dribbled past Valdes to net the winner after a spectacular effort just two minutes later.
Ronaldo's strike was a harsh blow to the locals, who failed to react. Mourinho made Granero come on for Di Maria, which helped the team keep possession and move the ball around as they pleased. As the minutes went by Real Madrid looked increasingly confident and became the masters at Camp Nou to the crowd's astonishment.
Stadium: Camp Nou
Goals: 0-1, m.17: Khedira. 1-1, m.70: Alexis. 1-2, m.73: Cristiano Ronaldo.