He simply knew it at that moment. From the edge of the penalty box, there was a sight of the industrious Angel Di Maria twisting around. And it all became clearer once Di Maria twisted past Alves to find some space. Deep in his heart, Ronaldo was already eye-ing it. It was always going to be a chance to carve his name in the history books. It was a pure chance to silence all his critics. It was a chance.
Di Maria did superbly to find space down the flank and placed in a delightful cross as the unmarked Ronaldo leaped all he could and focused all his energy to head the ball towards the goal. And as he landed back on his feet, celebration was already in the air as the Madrid fans celebrated while Cristiano Ronaldo smiled and ran with his arms open, happy for himself and Los Blancos because after all, they said he couldn't shine when it all mattered. Per contra, that was exactly what he did earlier tonight.
There was an air of surprise when Pepe was named alongside Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira at the centre of midfield when many expected him to deputize for the suspended Raul Albiol. Instead, Ramos moved to the centre of defence with Arbeloa taking up his place on the right side of defence.
But it was a signal of how Mourinho planned to set up his team. Counter attack was probably the main idea behind the formation considering that he chose to use the pace of Ronaldo alone up front instead of Adebayor or even Benzema. But boy oh boy did that formation work to perfection for Mourinho and co. Live Soccer TV explains how Real Madrid overcame the mighty Catalans.
The first half portrayed exactly what Mourinho intended to do with his formation as Real Madrid arguably had the better chances. The Blaugranas controlled possession as expected but the defensive brick set up in the Madrid midfield proved to be the decisive factor in their unsuccessful offensive attempts.
Everytime Real Madrid counter-attacked, they did it with murderous intentions with a large chunk of it due to the dynamics of Di Maria down the flanks. He huffed and puffed throughout the game but if he wan not sent off deep into extra time, Di Maria would have been our Man Of The Match. After all, he was the one who worked ever hard on the byline to find some space for a cross that Cristiano Ronaldo perfectly headed into the Barca goal to give Los Blancos their first win over the Catalans since Pep Guardiola took charge.
It was a determined showing from the midfield trio of Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Pepe and even David Villa was forced to continue his barren run without goals. Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi all made an attempt to plant their influence on the game but much to the joy of the Madrid fans, the defensive set-up worked perfectly to prevent any of them from taking charge of the match.
Everytime Barca got the ball, they had to past because the Madrid players were so eager to close them down quickly and as the match progressed, things became more and more frustrating for Guardiola's men. While they did began to show some better intentions in the second half, once again the brilliantly formed midfield of Real was simply to tough to crack.
He has always been criticized for his ineffectiveness during big games. Cristiano Ronaldo definitely had a history of under-performing when it all mattered but last weekend's goal meant that confidence would have been high as they began the encounter at Mestalla earlier today.
It was looking pretty dull for him early on as he failed to significantly make any sort of impact in the first half or even the second one. Nevertheless, he picked the perfect timing to strike a blower that virtually ends Barca's recent domination over Los Blancos.
This sight of Jose Mourinho being thrown to the air by his players would have definitely triggered some fear into the Barca players. The next two Clasico's will be the Champions League semi final ties and Real Madrid will almost certainly be fired up for that now.
Jose Mourinho has once again proved his class and beware Catalans, Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are back on track again!
|Real Madrid||May 2|
|Celta de Vigo||May 4|
|Bayern München||May 6|