Real Madrid Defeats Barcelona in Spanish Cup Final
Displaying inhuman endurance and extraordinary tactics, both teams played the highest intensity football possible throughout two halves and a 30-minute overtime; it was clear both were hungry for the trophy and even clearer that neither was going to let the other coast to an easy victory.
In place of the typical centre forward at the head of the formation, Jose Mourinho covered as much space as he could in the front line by employing wingers Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo in a three-pronged attack, while Barcelona relied on their trademark style of quick, one-touch passing to move the ball as efficiently across the field as possible.
Both Madrid and Barcelona managed to play attacking soccer while still maintaining an impenetrable defense, yet both teams found they could not break the 0-0 tie in the allotted 90 minutes.
However, a flawlessly executed cross by Di Maria allowed Ronaldo to score the first and only goal of the game in the 103rd minute.
From then on, Real Madrid, determined to prevent FC Barcelona’s deadly midfield combination of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta from breaking through their back line, fell back to defending for the remaining part of the game.
Time expired, giving Real Madrid their 18th Spanish Cup victory and ending their six-game losing streak to FC Barcelona.
Man of the Match
A defensive Real led to a 1-1 draw with Barcelona Saturday. This time around, we saw a much more attack-based Madrid, which started the game at an incredibly fast pace. A large part of this was due to Angel Di Maria’s never-ending lighting runs toward goal. Time and again he broke through Barcelona’s defense in an attempt to create opportunities for his team.
On Barcelona’s side, defender Dani Alves had a spectacular game, defending entire vital areas on his own several times and kicking the ball out of bounds whenever one of Real’s wingers came close to scoring. His strong play foiled Madrid’s chances of scoring many times during the first half.
Veteran central defender Ricardo Carvalho proved how essential he is to Real Madrid's back line as he silently canceled Barcelona’s long passes and quick plays. Though slightly overshadowed by Madrid’s flashy forward play, Carvalho relied on patience and years of experience to keep Barcelona’s deadly forwards from scoring.
With this win, Real Madrid at last ended their two-year trophy drought and can now look to the upcoming Champions League semi-final games (also against Barcelona) with anticipation and renewed hope. However, they cannot rest easy, as Barcelona is exactly the type of team to turn this loss around into a series of wins if Madrid is not careful.
From the way both teams played in this final, the upcoming games at the end of the month promise to be thrilling, intense displays of athleticism and tactical genius.
These two great teams deserve the trophies headed their way in the coming months.
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