REAL MADRID CF
2nd Leg, Supercopa de España
L’Estadi Camp Nou, Barcelona
August 17, 2011
02:30 am, IST; Ten Action Plus
After an exhilarating first leg, the focus shifts to the second leg at the Camp Nou. This is the same stadium, where FC Barcelona made José Mourinho feel impotent and Real Madrid suffered one of their worst losses in history, last year. But this year, things are bound to be different. The first leg was dominated by Real Madrid, as they created numerous chances, but could not capitalize on them fully and Barcelona scored two magnificent goals, out of the blue, to put Madrid on the back foot.
The Catalans hold a slim advantage, as they are nearly invincible in their own back-yard and having scored two away goals, would look to capitalize. With 98000 people cheering against them, Real Madrid would need every bit of their strength and style to overcome the away goal deficit and put Barcelona on the back foot by scoring at least a goal more than their Catalan adversaries.
Barcelona escaped from Bernabeu with a favourable result after the first leg. Coming away with two away goals, Pep was visibly happy with the result. After fielding a team which was missing the midfield spine and the defensive backbone, the performance was not cohesive. After a long time, their possession was a mere 52 % underlying the lack of control they had in the game. Pep will be hoping for a better game from his troops at the Camp Nou.
Xavi is expected to be back in midfield along with Pique in defense, which could significantly improve the general game employed by Barca. Keita, who is not a natural defensive midfielder, found it hard against Madrid. Mascherano could occupy the slot in the absence of Busquets. Above all, it was the performance of Alexis that had been the brightest point of the first game. He seems to have seamlessly fit into this team and has already shown a good understanding with Messi. His dribbling skills are an upgrade over what Pedro had offered. Along with Villa and Messi, the front line is still a handful for any team even without a pre-season. To put the game plan in a simple way, Guardiola’s men will be looking to control the game more than they did at the Bernabéu.
Cesc Fàbregas has been training with the squad. Although he is not expected to start, he might be given his debut later in the game depending on how it progresses. Pep doesn’t have Maxwell and Puyol in defence and given the lack of sharpness all over the pitch, the pressing game will determine how Barca will control the game. Valdés may not have the recognition of the world for his skills, but Guardiola knows how vital he is to this side. He was the sole reason Barca are still in this contest.
Probable XI: Valdés; Alves, Pique, Abidal, Adriano; Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta; Villa, Messi, Alexis
José Mourinho went with his traditional 4-2-3-1 (the same team which lost 5-0), in spite of many people, including yours truly, guessing that he would start with a 4-3-3 and boy, was he right! Real Madrid set the pace of the game early and launched a wave of attacks with Karim Benzema looking every bit the striker the fans had envisioned. Mesut Özil’s creativity was as usual world class and Ronaldo was causing problems. But, there was another player, who was giving his heart out in the midfield – Sami Khedira. Running up and down the pitch, the German put immense pressure on the Barça players and was able to draw errors from the ever-reliable Catalans and he would once again be the key to press in the Barça midfield.
With the 4-2-3-1 working just fine, Mourinho will stick with the same formation, as he can’t afford to remain defensive to find a goal to win the Super Cup. And there would hardly be any changes in the defensive line up. Marcelo managed to put Sanchez at bay and Sergio Ramos was excellent throughout the game sans the only time he gave too much space and time to David Villa, who scored a scorcher past a helpless Casillas.
The Catalan giants are renowned for their passing and possession ability. But, for 75 minutes, Real Madrid dominated the game in every aspect. Their possession was 53% compared to Barça’s 47% until Xavi, the dark lord of possession, had to intervene to end the match with a possession of 52% in Barca’s favor. This statistic has offered great hope to the numerous fans out there that this team is indeed progressing in the right direction and with Benzema and Ronaldo pressing hard in the final third, Mourinho looks as if he has finally managed make this gifted bunch of individuals gel as a team.
Coentrão looked lively in his brief cameo and would be expected to contribute again while Di Maria looked off-color and needs to use his pace in a more intelligent way. The other challenge for Real Madrid could be the presence of Xavi in the starting line-up. If the Spanish maestro starts, it would mean more possession and control for Barça than the first leg and then Madrid will not have such a strong hold on the match.
Barça are vulnerable in the first 15 minutes and this is when Jose Mourinho will urge his troops to go all out and get that extra away goal so that there would be no great pressure later.
Probable XI: Casillas; Ramos,Pepe,Carvalho,Marcelo;Xabi,Khedira;Di Maria,Özil,Ronaldo,Benzema
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch Out For
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
The French striker has been a revelation so far this season. He was the leading scorer for Los Galacticos in the pre-season and his fabulous form seems to be continuing. He did not score any goals but set up the first one beautifully for Mesut Özil. His dribbling and ball control reflects his confidence and Mourinho will hope for another top-class display from his center forward.
FC Barcelona 2- 2 Real Madrid (Real Madrid to win on penalties)
It would be foolish to predict a winner in such a crucial match. Real Madrid are undoubtedly playing great football but this is the home of the Catalans and they hardly disappoint at the Camp Nou. This leg could as well be as entertaining as the first one.