Madrid Claim First Title Of The Season But May Regret Not Stepping On Barca’s Throat

Madrid snatched the Supercopa title out of Barcelona's hands but did they miss a chance to truly humiliate their oldest rivals?
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Madrid snatched the Supercopa title out of Barcelona's hands but did they miss a chance to truly humiliate their oldest rivals?

Real Madrid Claim First Title Of The Season But May Regret Not Stepping On Barca’s Throat 

It was just approaching 11pm local time on another sweltering Madrid summer’s night when Barcelona looked to have self-combusted.

A proud run of four years and seven games without defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu was coming to an end with a massive thud; 27 minutes in they were already two goals and a man down.

Real Madrid now led 4-3 in the tie and if ever there was an opportunity to avenge the scars of some hidings down that four-year period this was it.

But then Barca started doing what they always do. The ball started to move, slowly at first, but pass by pass they shuffled their way back into the game tiki-taka style and by half-time they were only 2-1 down thanks to the most brilliant free-kick from the most brilliant player on the planet.

In early season psychology terms this was a non result

The pattern continued after the break, Barca probing, searching, at times even finding a gap in behind. Madrid breaking at frightening speed and firing at Victor Valdes, but in the end somehow there were no more goals. A 2-1 home win meaning a 4-4 draw on aggregate with Real taking the trophy on away goals.

Which also meant in early season psychology terms this was a non result. Yes, Barcelona have now surrendered their Supercopa trophy to go with the league that Real took for the first time in four years in May, but Barca fans must have been fearing a lot worse when Adriano trudged from the pitch having hauled Cristiano Ronaldo down.

Add in the fact that the Catalans already have a five-point advantage over Real after just two games of the league season and there is little to quibble about.

And complaining Tito Vilanova certainly was not – despite now having experienced more defeats at the Bernabeu than his former boss Pep Guardiola ever did in charge.
“The second-half, where we attacked with 10 players until the end, is definitely one of the proudest days I have had with these players in four years,” he said with some degree of satisfaction.

Imagine if a Vilanova side travelling to the Spanish capital for the first time had been battered 5-0 having not lost a single game there under Guardiola.

As for Jose Mourinho, well he didn’t speak at all having got the reaction he wanted after dismissing Real’s performance in a  2-1 defeat at Getafe as awful and publicly questioning whether some of his players hadthe required mental strength for another gruelling season ahead.

But surely the Portuguese must be thinking what could have been. Mourinho insisted earlier in the week he would take Supercopa defeat if it inspired his players to a recovery in the title race. The intention was clear, winning the season’s grand curtain raiser is all well and good but it would gratefully be sacrificed for an edge on the bigger rewards. And he could have had both.
Imagine if a Vilanova side travelling to the Spanish capital for the first time had been battered 5-0 having not lost a single game there under Guardiola.

Barcelona’s five-point league lead would have been buried beneath a forest of outraged headlines. The Madrid papers would have the Barca canguelo cranked up to the max and the pendulum of crisis would have swung firmly in the direction of the Catalan capital, at least until the two met again in early October.

Instead Real missed their chance to put their foot on Barca’s throat. Their pressing eased and by the second-half almost disappeared completely as they allowed the visitors comfortable possession. Chances continued to come on the counter, but none were taken, and by the end Madridista hearts were in mouths as Messi fired inches wide from a position where he would normally hit the target.

Real may have their first win of the season at the fourth time of asking, but their failure to make it a landmark one could yet prove significant.

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