Article by Ally White
Barcelona regained the top spot in La Liga in the Derbi Spanish Classic this past Sunday. The team beat its archrivals, Real Madrid 1-0 at Camp Nou after an astonishingly well-executed goal by Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Barça may have played with only 10 men for almost half an hour but nonetheless managed to secure the victory.
The match, the most anticipated in the Spanish league, did not disappoint. It had everything: passion, good play, talented players, spectacle, stress, talent, and heart – in short, exactly what was required for Barça to defeat Real.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid went to Camp Nou with the intention of winning. The Whites, already ahead of Barça as of last weekend, hoped to consolidate their leadership.
At home, Barça gave a showy game, playing while looking for the space to assist Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, and Thierry Henry. The team was backed by over 70,000 spectators at Camp Nou, and dominated the first 15 minutes of the meeting, with Messi making great plays despite recovering from pain in his left abductor.
Madrid, meanwhile, tried to stifle Barça’s game, pressing forward, avoiding giving space to the Azulgrana, and looking for the steals to allow quick departures from the Brazilian Kaká and the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo.
Both the strikers gave a shock at minute 27, when Kaká dodged defender Gerard Pique and ran to the penalty area, passing to Ronaldo who had a clear shot to the net. Victor Valdez, Barça’s often-understated goalkeeper, managed to stop the shot with difficulty.
Barcelona had the ball but couldn’t overcome the compact wall defense mounted by Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini. At the same time, Barça itself enjoyed great defensive work from Carles Puyol – perhaps the real hero of the team – and Pique, who managed to stop much of the Whites’ offensive action.
The teams faced a stalemate, and the first half ended 0-0.
In the second half, Barça coach Pep Guardiola substituted a not-so-active Henry with Ibrahimovic to improve the team’s offensive action. Five minutes later, the move would pay off for the Azulgranas.
At minute 56, Barça right-winger Dani Alves moved to the right, sending a good cross toward Ibrahimovic, who appeared to be without defense. Without even dribbling the ball, the Swede finished the play with a great volley that sent the ball to the bottom of Iker Casillas’ net, opening the score 1-0, in favor of Barcelona.
Only a minute earlier, Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain had a great opportunity, indeed managed to move into Valdes’ area, but Puyol crossed to deflect his shot.
Barça was now up in the score and Real Madrid was left confused. Even when the visitors lost Sergi Busquets at minute 62 – a double yellow card – the Whites were unable to take advantage of their opponents’ numerical deficiency.
With only 10 players, Barça closed themselves in their area, focusing on defense, but did not lose sight of their quick counterattacks on the opposite goal. However, it was the Whites who forged forward with the most attacks, especially with the entry of French striker Karim Benzema for Ronaldo, who did not play 90 minutes.
In the end, Madrid attacked but couldn’t score. Barcelona, in contrast, seemed close to taking a second goal, this time from Messi, but Casillas took the shot out with his foot and saved the ball. That play signaled the end of the match, with Barcelona ahead 1-0.
The triumph shoots Barcelona to the top of the standings with 30 points. Real Madrid is behind with 28, followed by Sevilla with 25 points.
About the Author
Ally White is a top senior copy writer on Spanish League Soccer and sports action for the sportsbetting http://www.instantactionsports.com/uk/Feel free to reprint this article in its entirety on your site, make sure to leave all links in place and do not modify any of the content.