There certainly was no lack of controversy following the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal between Spanish rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Take your pick: Pepe’s red card (worthy or not?), the halftime brawl, the diving and, of course, Mourinho’s postgame comments...plenty to hash out.
Mourinho himself said it would be impossible for Real Madrid to go into Camp Nou and leave with a victory. That’s what they’ll try to do today. After Barcelona’s 2-0 win, it certainly is no easy road for Madrid to the final.
A quick share: For a little futbol vs football chatter, featuring the always quotable Rex Ryan. Let’s just say he put up for debate which is “the beautiful game.”
Join me for a live blog of today’s game, and please feel free to insert your commentary in the comments section below.
FINAL: Barcelona 1 - Real Madrid 1. Barcelona advances, 3-1, on aggregate.
No doubt the deserving team advanced. Barcelona dominated the game again today, though Madrid was able to pull even on the scoreboard. Abidal tossed high by his teammates following the match, and Barca is on to the final at Wembley. Who they will play, Manchester United or Schalke, will be learned tomorrow.
Join me back here for another live chat of that contest.
90’ - Real Madrid may just be out of time. Barcelona has been the better side today, no doubt about that. Puyol subbed out now for Abidal. Abidal gets a huge ovation as he enters. Abidal diagnosed with cancer in February.
80’ - Keita came on for David Villa in the 74th minute. Real Madrid has to take some more chances now and that’s leading to a few more fouls. With just 10 minutes left for two goals, they’ll start pouring forward with everyone soon.
64’ - GOAL! Alonso intercepts a poor pass by Barcelona in its own third. A nice ball to Di Maria, who smashes a shot off the left post but gets the bounce back and finds Marcelo, who finishes easily. Two more goals needed by Madrid to advance. Barcelona 1 - Madrid 1
62’ - Ozil on for Kaka in the 60th minute. A Barceolna free kick is cleared. Barca will look to control possession and make Real Madrid chase now.
54’ - GOAL! A Messi run cleared space for Iniesta, who took a square pass and threaded an absolute beauty of a ball through the defense to a charging Pedro, who finished with his left foot to give Barcelona the lead, and likely a pass to the final. Barcelona 1, Madrid 0.
47’ - Higuain looked like he gave Madrid the lead, but a foul was called on Ronaldo for taking down a defender as he fell. Barcelona may have gotten away with one there, as it didnt look intentional at first glance.
46’ - The second half is underway. Have to expect Real Madrid to absolutely go for it here. The kick was delayed by a fan running onto the field, but now it’s back to the game. Will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments Madrid makes to conjure more opportunities in the final 45 minutes.
Starting lineups and FIRST HALF after the jump.
HALFTIME - Real Madrid 0, Barcelona 0
Analysis: It’s been a much more open game than the first leg, but again dominated by Barcelona. Casillas showing why he’s widely considered the best goalkeeper in the world, saving several quality chances to keep it scoreless. Madrid have looked threatening at times, but no solid chances on goal yet. They’re still alive, though, at the intermission.
37’ - David Villa cross off Pedro falls to Messi who blisters a shot that forces yet another save. Madrid surviving now but Barcelona really probing and look as if they are going to find a way through soon. Casillas keeping Madrid in it.
34’ - Another solid chance for Messi, who brings down a cross off his chest, beats two defenders but misses wide of the far post. Then Messi finds David Villa about a minute later and Villa’s diving shot is saved by a sprawling Casillas. Barcelona increasing the pressure now.
32’ - Messi with a shot that forced a diving save by Casillas. The best chance of the half for either team.
25’ - A Busquets header off a corner kick in the 21st minute was the first dangerous chance, but it was saved rather easily. Not many efforts on goal yet, though, and Busquets perhaps should have done better unmarked from close range.
20’ - Still not much to update. In fact, I’d argue the most impressive part of the game thus far has been the defending. Some dangerous runs into the box, but the defenders for both Madrid and Barcelona have handled it well. Barcelona starting to take a bit more of the possession.
10’ - It has been a bit more open already, as Real Madrid has seen Ronaldo make some runs up the left wing. Iniesta has been pushing higher for Barcelona. No real dangerous chances yet.
1’ - The game is underway, and we should expect a much faster-paced, open game than the first leg, when Madrid sat back and absorbed pressure in hopes of a 0-0 draw.
Barcelona Starting XI: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Puyol; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Villa, Messi, Pedro. Subs: Olazabal, Jeffren, Keita, Afellay, Abidal, Fontas, Thiago Alcantara
Real Madrid Starting XI: Casillas; Arbeloa, Carvalho, Albiol, Marcelo; Lass, Alonso; Di Maria, Kaka, Ronaldo; Higuain. Subs: Dudek, Benzema, Granero, Garay, Ozil, Adebayor, Nacho