Saturday, April 16, 2011

Messi v Ronaldo 1 - 1

FC Barcelona all but wrapped up a third straight La Liga title today with a 1 - 1 draw in Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, in the first of four Clasico matches against their arch rivals.  Real Madrid displayed great determination for much of the first half of the game, but as always Barca had the reserve firepower to score.  In the 53rd minute, Madrid defender Raul Albiol was sent off for wrapping both of his arms around David Villa's neck in the box, a very bad move that gave Messi wan Kenobi his 30th goal of the season, and left Real down one man.

Madrid gamely fought back, most exceptionally displayed by the hustling Marcello who drew the late penalty against Dani Alves, a gift which Cristiano Ronaldo exploited as surely as Messi had earlier, tying the score at 1 - 1.  Down one man, Madrid was fortunate to survive several late Barsa surges, and even mounted a few attacks of their own.  In the end it was not enough, and thus the series begins with a tied score.

Some people are already saying it saved Madrid's honor.  But I think it presages doom for Madrid.  The new Galacticos clearly made an all-out effort today, very disciplined and determined, yet they still came agonizingly close to defeat.  This is their best effort, at home, against their historical nemesis?

What happens when the series move on to other, less-friendly venues?

Yes, I think Real Madrid is in very big trouble.  Visca Barca !