El Centrocampista

BOILING POINT! – Messi seals Supercopa glory as tempers flare.

By Lee Roden

Once again, Leo Messi marks the difference.  It really is getting tiresome, but the little magician produced another wonderful display to settle a tie that, for large parts, had no clear winner.

Real Madrid, much like the first leg, started the brighter of the two teams. As Barça began to hit their stride though it became evident that match fitness and not inferiority was hindering the Catalans.

Defensively however, the player lacking the most game time for Barça was often the weakest.  Gerard Pique looked nothing like his normally assured self when bringing the ball out of the back, and often resorted to blasting the ball up field in a most un-barça like fashion.

Javier Mascherano, on the other hand, had a game almost the polar opposite to his last. Time and time again he bailed out the Barça defence with perfect interceptions and excellent positioning.  He also looked infuriated when Barça conceded a sloppy second goal despite his good work.

The game was marred by violence on and off the pitch in what is unfortunately becoming a recurring theme in this generation of clasicos. Marcelo’s tackle on Fabregas was horrible and deserving of a red, though may be somewhat understandable for reasons I will explain later.

Now for to the more positive side of the game. One thing that was particularly evident was a new found willingness of Barça midfielders to get in to the box and move into forward space. Andres Iniesta was a shining example of this with the first goal, set up by a sublime pass from Messi that almost exactly mirrored his pass for Villa in the first clasico last year.

What Gerard Pique lacked in his usual defensive stability, he certainly made up for with a visionary backheel for Messi’s first of the match. As the ball found little Leo in the box, I expected nothing less than for him to slot it into the back of the net calmly, and he duly obliged.

It was for Messi’s second however, that Barça should truly be thankful.

Having conceded a second goal, Madrid would only need one more to take the tie to extra time. Once again however, Messi appeared to change the game, completing an exquisite volley that put the tie out of site.

As one commentator noted, ‘where was Cristiano Ronaldo?’. Indeed, the Portuguese was largely anonymous for most of the game and shackled throughout by Dani Alves. Messi on the other hand, has a habit of going through quiet spells in games then appearing when his team most needs it, as was the case tonight.

Cesc Fabregas did not have the dream debut he may have hoped for, with his time on the field restricted by the end of match events. Marcelo’s lunge resulted in an end of game brawl that all parties should be ashamed of.

Jose Mourinho’s actions in particular were disgraceful, and bring La Liga into a level of disrepute it neither needs nor wants. How can Real Madrid’s players be expected to behave themselves on the pitch when the man they follow religiously refuses to do so of it? I imagine Mourinho will receive just punishment in the following days, and rightly so.

Ultimately, it was a game with wonderful moments, but one that was largely overshadowed by some horrible events, the last of which I will now mention.

As I previously noted, Marcelo made a terrible lunge at the end of the game, and deservedly received a straight red card. What I would like to point out however is a potential source of his frustration. Audible sounds imitating those of monkeys were directed towards the left back on several occasions throughout the game.

This kind of behaviour is not only inexcusable, but absolutely shameful and is all too common in La Liga. If reports are to be believed, Alves received similar treatment in the first leg of the tie. Spanish football needs to make a serious attempt to cut out the rampant racism so often found in matches, and it needs to do so now.

Whilst I have often mocked the English league for the constant exaggeration of its quality, one thing that has clearly been achieved in England has been to remove racism from football. The Spanish football federation should take note from their English counterparts and act swiftly.

To those Barça supporters who made the chants, I would ask: What do you think of Ronaldinho, of Romario, of Rivaldo, Alves or Abidal? The same players you worship also come from a black ethnic background. Not only is your behaviour disgusting, it’s also entirely illogical.

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