Today, Real Madrid played as it should have in the first leg. The first half began so brightly for Real with Gonzalo Higuain the main culprit for not finishing those chances. Gerard Pique was caught napping and the Argentinian striker should have done much, much better. Minutes later, Pinto was barely able to foil Higuain whose timing was less than impeccable.
One wonders why Mourinho kept Oezil out in the first leg because the German was the catalyst for all the good things happening on the pitch. His cannonball shot hit the upright and Pinto was able to get to the rebound before Higuain could do more damage. Minutes later, the Barca goalie under pressure gave the ball away to Higuain but managed to kick save it.
Barca’s goal came against the run of play as Leo Messi sailing upstream and his uncanny vision found the seam between two defenders to slip Pedro the ball on the left and the striker made no mistake. More damage was done just before the half when Dani Alves let loose a superlative shot which caught a thermal to crash past Casillas after a rebound from a free kick found the Brazilian.
How was Lass Diarra not sent off for his industrial charge on Messi? Casillas took one for the team there by distracting the referee.
Real came back in the second half as Barca became complacent with the aggregate now swelling to 4-1. The key substitution was Karim Benzema, a more direct striker than Higuain. The tide turned when Oezil was able to slip the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo lurking to the right catching Puyol off balance and Ronaldo was able to skip past Pinto to swing the ball into an empty net. The equalizer came after a tardy clearance found Benzema, and the former Lyon man controlled the ball after Puyol slipped and slammed the ball past Pinto. Now it was 4-3 on aggregate and Barca were suddenly looking vulnerable, their deft touch on the ball gone. The atmosphere in the Camp Nou just got more hushed and Pep Guardiola sported a worried look. But they managed to pull through the last 10 minutes with Messi and Pedro coming close to regaining Barca a lead.
Sergio Ramos was guilty of two acts of stupidity. His goal from a corner was called off after he thoughtlessly pulled down Dani Alves, resulting in a yellow. He was then sent off in the 87th minute after a touchy feely foul on Busqets. Sometimes one wonders what Mou sees in Pepe and Ramos, two of the worst offenders.
Madrid were guilty of being wasteful while Barca with far fewer chances were more clinical. The key to Barca’s success was finding other goalscorers. Abidal and Puyol in the first leg and Pedro and Alves in the second. Real had to go through Ronaldo and then Benzema which made them quite predictable. Plus, Messi confirmed when he’s not scoring amazing goals is busy pulling off the most superlative assists.