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Main » 2013 » March » 2 » Real 2:1 Barcelona

Real 2:1 Barcelona

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With the return leg of their Champions League tie with Manchester United on the horizon, momentum is beginning to gather within the ranks of Real Madrid.

Minutes before the referee called time on a second Real victory over Barcelona in five days here this afternoon, a cry of "Jose Mourinho, Jose Mourinho” began to drift round the Bernabeu.

As the observer sitting to my right in the press box murmured: "We haven’t heard that for a while”.

This is what it’s like for a coach in Spain and especially here in Madrid.
Mourinho has spent much of this season trying to ignore the dissenting voices in the Madrid media and among the Madridistas as memories of last season’s La Liga title have disappeared in the face of such a limp attempt to win it again.

Nevertheless, Madrid can now smell possibility in the Champions League, the competition they want to win more than any other after more than a decade without success.

Certainly, they are improving. This was an odd game at times as a Real team deprived of seven of its regular starters – including Cristiano Ronaldo – faced their great rivals from Barcelona in the glare of a surprisingly powerful March sun.

At half-time, it looked as though it may drift in to stalemate. Karim Benzema scored in the sixth minute from an Alvaro Morata cross and then Lionel Messi equalised with his 50th goal of the Spanish season, scoring with his left foot after Dani Alves played him through.

That apart there had been little to get excited about but, as is often the way between these two teams, things began to get a little tense and fractious in the second half and as the competitiveness of the game increased it was Real who seemed ready for a real contest.

Certainly it helped when Ronaldo came on with half an hour left. Within 15 minutes of his arrival, he had hit the side netting and brought a save from Victor Valdes with a free-kick. Before the game was over he was to hit the bar from 25 yards too.

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