(Jordi Blanco, correspondent in Barcelona) — Real Madrid will play the Super Cup final after eliminating Barcelona (3-2) in a huge Clásico that showed merengue’s capacity for suffering and resolution as well as growth, courage and determination of a Barça that did not give up at any time, that responded to Benzema’s 1-2 by assuming an enormous risk and that for many minutes subdued a rival on whom fortune smiled thanks to its adaptation to the argument of the match.
Madrid won knowing that they had to roll up their sleeves in defense to survive the siege of Barça after Ansu Fati’s draw. It was an end to the game and the beginning of extra time in which Xavi’s team commanded with a superiority as evident as that allowed by Ancelotti’s, more busy waiting for one mistake, another, from the rival that would allow them to strike.
And the merengue team gave it thanks to the Barça concession. If Busquets failed at 0-1 and Alves was clueless and slow at 1-2, the 1-3 was born from a loss by Dembélé that allowed Madrid’s supersonic and desperate exit, which ended up being resolved by Fede Valverde. Barça always wanted… But they couldn’t.
Real Madrid entered the match with greater poise and control, giving the ball to Barça in a false Barça dominance, with greater possession but without the feeling of danger that Ancelotti’s team did show when they found themselves with the possibility of running. Waiting patiently, Madrid came out on the counter causing short circuits in the containment of a Barça that was forced to lower its expectations, taking the clash a white color that exploded after 25 minutes.
A magnificent ball steal from Benzema to Busquets, who was too haughty in midfield driving, caused Vinicius to run, Dani Alves’ slow reaction time and Benzema’s advanced pass, which the Brazilian took advantage of to enter the area with an advantage over the desperate Araújo, powerless like Ter Stegen to the poisoned shot that opened the scoring.
Touched but not sunk, Barça responded, rebelling against depression, printing more verticality to their game, more speed and preventing the advantage from giving pause to the rival. This is how it was relaunched towards the break, with the final prize for Luuk de Jong, who after three dangerous shots found the goal in the least expected play, finishing, off the rebound, a bad rejection of Militao to Dembélé’s center.
THE SPARKLING EFFECT OF PEDRI
More lively and convinced Barça at the end of the first half, the second began with greater impetus even with the entry of Abde and, above all, Pedri, whose importance, from the outset, was essential to explain the almost absolute dominance, azulgrana, in the first minutes.
Up to four shots in five minutes, with a much more offensive possession and a game plan in which the Canarian emerged as the key, Xavi’s team enjoyed the first quarter of an hour of the second half, when they most submitted to an off-center Madrid and who reduced in defense in the best way he could… Until in an incomprehensible way Barça took a step back.
It could have been a step back from Barça, a step forward from Madrid or a lack of air in the Barça players but the truth is that Ancelotti’s group suddenly regained its status and not even Ansu Fati’s entry for Luuk de Jong revolutionized the attack of his team, who suffered a short circuit from which Real would end up benefiting.
A poor coverage from Alves to Mendy ended with the ball at the feet of Benzema, whose electric shot was rejected as best he could by Ter Stegen, the ball reaching Asensio whose low center grazed the goalkeeper to leave the ball dead again at the feet of Karim, whose shot Point-blank from the edge of the small area it was already impossible to save by the slow defense of a Barça that, then yes, received, minute 72, the goal like a blow.
Comfortable and solvent, Madrid seemed to lead the game to a calm end… But Barça, worthy in their ability to react, did not give up. Nico and Memphis came on, Xavi took a chance advancing the team with Alves leaving and his team recovered the lost ground. Until he found the prize.
If Busquets failed in the 0-1, Ansu Fati was right to find the gap for Jordi Alba’s magnificent center, to which Mendy and Militao responded cluelessly in the mark, leaving the young Barça player alone so that he could finish off unmarked, beat Courtois and return the goal. matched at the most transcendent moment, and it seemed definitive, of the clash.
Extra time was reached with Madrid close to drowning and the feeling that the risk taken by Xavi, which had worked to avoid defeat, could cause him a headache in extra time… Although the air remained to be seen that Vinicius could already have left at that point and a Madrid that used Lucas Vázquez to look for depth but had already lost Modric.
The start of extra time was little more than a monologue by Barça. Dominating, firm, combinative and solvent, Xavi’s team dwarfed a Madrid that had to adjust in defense and rely on their luck on the counterattack, imagining that the rival’s bet could give them an option because after attacking so much and going up, they neglected their part rear.
And so he struck, as expected, the blow. So lively and convinced was Barça up front that they paid for their audacity in a counterattack, led by Rodrygo after the loss of Dembélé and sentenced by Fede Valverde, midway through the first half of extra time and returning the smile to a timid and lucky team in equal parts .
From there he wanted but Barça could no longer. He tried in every way without ever losing personality. Combining with urgency, looking for the extremes, adjusting patiently but colliding with a veteran defense, which left few spaces and was determined not to give it more concessions.
Xavi’s team tried desperately, with the freshness of Jutglà and joining him with Dembélé, Ansu, Memphis, Pedri, Nico and whoever was needed, even allowing cons like the one Rodrygo enjoyed in his search for the miraculous draw… did not arrive
And Madrid took the ticket to the final.