Barcelona went through to the Copa del Rey semi-final after a compelling, tense and typically ill-mannered draw with Real Madrid put them through 4-3 on aggregate
Good evening: Oh ambassador, you're spoiling us. Another Barça v Real Madrid game. There's always a feisty build-up before these games, though this time the focus has been squarely on José Mourinho, who played his version of the briefed-up suspect, "no commenting" his way through yesterday's press conference. Sid Lowe reckoned he had a "steely stare" throughout and seems to be in open revolt against the club's establishment figures.
The most venerable Madridista of all, Alfredo Di Stefano, will have given him further cause for complaint today. In his Marca column, the club's honorary president, has a right pop at the Portuguese and his inability to get the better of Barcelona, saying the fans were right to boo him during and after the 4-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao:
"For the first time the fans launched their reproach against Mourinho. Deep down [it was] the memory of the fiasco against Barca and especially the rejection of a type of behaviour many consider degrading to Madrid.
"Jupp Heynckes was sacked after ending a 32-year European Cup drought. Vicente del Bosque wasn't kept on after winning two Champions Leagues titles and two leagues. The same thing happened with Fabio Capello, and the sacking of [Radomir] Antic came when the team were top of the league. The history of Madrid has been written that way dozens of times.
"Mourinho must get it right. Up until now he hasn't found the formula [against Barça] and he confessed that after the game at the Bernabéu. He paid the consequences for [being] excessively defensive. Perhaps at Camp Nou [Real] will rise to the greatness the history of Madrid demands."
The newspaper AS reckons his disenchantment is symbolised by the attire he chose for a Sunday meeting with Florentino Perez, sacking off Madrid's official line in favour of togs by his personal sponsor Porsche, "a brand that is a direct competitor with Real Madrid sponsor Audi". This is one for Ask Hadley.
What of Pep Guardiola? Accdording to the news wires this is his take, smoothly veering from flattery to insult: "I hold reverential respect for Real Madrid. They are the worst team we could expect to play on Wednesday. The problem with this game is that we have already qualified and they are already out, and yet we still have to play. I predict a tight match right until the end … If we try to defend the result from the first leg, they'll beat us. If we want to make the semi finals we'll have to play another great match. I have a feeling that Real Madrid are going to get a goal at the Camp Nou and so we are going to have to try to get one too".
Real have not won there since Julio Baptista scored the winner in a 1-0 victory in 2007. The old saying about it always being darkest before the dawn seems daft given Real's healthy lead in the league but as far as Mourinho is concerned it is not an inappropriate sentiment for him to hold. That is if his mind isn't already made up to jack it in.
Here are your starting XIs. First leg Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona:
Barcelona: Pinto; Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Sánchez, Messi, Fábregas.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrão; Diarra, Xabi Alonso; Ronaldo, Kaká, Ozil; Higuaín.
Alex Salmond was in the house last night and tonight's dinner had a Caledonian theme in honour of Burns Night. Haggis, neeps and tatties with a whisky sauce. And on that theme, here's Ryan Dunne: "Hawrite Rob! Looking forward to tonight's game; after the heroic, Star Wars-esque battle between Good and Evil that is the Old Firm clash between the Glorious Glasgow Rangers and Celtic this is surely the best derby around. Any word on if that Real Madrid team will line up more attackingly (in a footballing sense) than last week's dour defensive thuggery? Impressed also with the wee funny accent mark in Coentrão. You don't get that in The Sun!" You won't get it in the commentary either Ryan. According to Marca the introduction of Kaka suggests that they're going to go for it. I ceratinly hope so after last week. They've nothing to lose in this competition at least. Liam Moseley asks: "Surely I can't be the only one who really really wants to see Madrid show up and turn Barcelona over. I know it is unlikely but if Barcelona keep beating Madrid with such ease and sense of inevitability then these games will lose all mystique. I shudder at the thought of typing this but I think it would be good for football if Mourinho's Madrid were to win and win in style." Nice grenade you dropped there, Liam. Put your brass hat on.
Substitute news, ripped off Marca as Sky are still showing Mallorca v Athletic:
Barcelona: Valdés, Montoya, Thiago, Dos Santos, Adriano, Mascherano, Roberto, Cuenca.
Real Madrid: Adan, Marcelo, Sahin, Altintop, Albiol, Granero, Carvalho, Di María, Benzema.
Not sure if that's official yet. I'll let you know.
It's midnight in the garden of good and evil: "Can I be the first of many pedants to point out that it is the Rangers FC?" writes Harry McDonald. "They do not have Glasgow in their name. Although I agree with Ryan that they should have the word 'Evil' in there, as should Madrid." I think he knows, Harry. He just likes the alliteration. Gary Wraith is the man in the trenches with Liam Moseley: "For the sake of Football, Madrid must win, even if its the underhand, Mourinho Madrid we're talking about here. Put Franco to one side. Barcelona have elevated their skill level and playing style to such a high level, that its become boring and predictable to watch them as we all know who's going to win in the end. Height challenged football maestros have become absurdly passé and banal. So if anyone is going to need their tin hats on, I'll stand squarely with Liam and put mine on. So there." That's me told.
Kissy, kissy: Sergio Ramos is planting smackers on his team-mates' cheeks in the tunnel. Finbarr Saunders alert! Matias Pasch has a word or two on mathematics: "ESPN online coverage begins with the statement 'if Barcelona score one, Madrid will need to score 4'. It's not just South Africans who don't understand away goals."
1 min: After the captains and coaches shake hands we're off. Barça kick off and Real almost take the lead after Pique lets a backpass from Dani Alves run past him and Higuain steals in, 15 yards from goal, one on one with Pinto and steers his shot wide of the right post. Bad, bad miss.
3 min: Ronaldo is hobbling. Didn't see him caught so I'm not sure how he was injured. Kaka wins a free-kick when Piqué handles his cross. Well, it hit his arms. From the free-kick Ramos misses a free header but the ball goes through from Xabi Alonso's delivery and Higuain shoots on the volley straight at Pinto.
5 min: Mourinho's wildest dreams couldn't have conjuured up two better chances in the first three minutes. Here's Robin Hazlehurst: "Bayonet fixed and ready for action sah! Isn't it a bit like when Australian cricket fans complained that they wanted England (or anyone) to be good so that beating them would be fun again? Or like England rugby fans feel about Scotland, stuffing them when they are rubbish is not interesting? I'm sure logical Barca fans would like Madrid to be scarily strong so that they can enjoy winning more. Oh, logical football fans, I'm seeing a weakness in my argument there." Fatally flawed old bean.
7 min: Glorious bit of skill from Messi, skipping out of a tackle and tapping the ball to Cesc but the ball runs through to Casillas. Up the other end Ronaldo picks up the ball running right to left, slipped in by Ozil's excellent pass. He shoots with his left foot, wide. Hint of a touch from Dani Alves there. Hola, Ceci Marjakangas: "Not surprised to see that there are commentators who prefer Mou's Madrid …Jose's well-liked in England. However, today's Xavi's birthday … and how could one not wish Xavi a happy birthday win at Camp Nou? Last week, it was Pep who had his. Speaking of whom, he's expressed the wish that Culés were nice to Pepe (and not chant "asesino, asesino...") and not throw any pig's heads on the pitch (like they did for Figo). So, see, Barça aren't so boring after all. No need to go to the dark side for the cookies. Som-hi Barça! :) Still, this could go either way. Just hope Madrid won't maim any blaugrana players."
9 min: Barça free kick after Kaka fouls Messi. It's 25 yards out … ish and Dani Alves spanks his shot into the wall. Alexis appeals for a foul when Ramos looks to have pulled him back but the referee says he made the most of it. There was contact, though. Slight, but there.
11 min: Eeee. He could catch pigeons that Alexis. Ball comes over the top of the centre-backs and Alexis steals in betweeen Ramos and the covering Coentrao but the ball skips off the turf and Casillas steps forward to gather. Chances are coming thick and fast for Real, and they break very quickly, Kaka spotting Ronaldo and playing him in as he runs down the inside-left channel. His shot takes a deflection which knocks it down for Pinto to save with his knees.
13 min: What's with Pinto's dreads then? He saved that Ronaldo effort with his ankle, not his knees. Though the ankle bone is connected to the knee bone, apparently. Don't write in to say that it isn't, please. Watch the Singing Detective instead.
15 min: Xabi Alonso's clumsy touch sees him robbed by Cesc who scampers down the left, cutting diagonally infield. He plays it to Messi, slightly behind him. The defenders stand off him, though, so he has time to turn and curl a left-foot shot from 20 yards wide of Casillas's right post.
17 min: Philip Wainwright is not impressed by the feed he's watching: "I've never been so angry at a set of commentators. One Yank and one Geordie, both of whom are useless. That's the last time I roll my eyes at Tyldesley, Drury, Beglin et al. mnLet us all in the UK be thankful for what we have. The grass isn't always greener." Ronaldo puts Dani Alves on his backside when he takes a diagonal pass wide on the left from Ozil. He feints one way, Alves slips, then goes the other to hit his cross that is blocked for a corner. Corner comes in and hits Busquets and goes out again. The replay suggests the faintest hint of hand ball, not that Real asked for the penalty.
19 min: Fabregas has popped up on the right now, plays it back to Xavi, who takes his time, taps it to Busquets. Puyol then launches a long pass up to Alexis but he can't get on the end of it, though the Real Madrid defenders are growing unsettled by his pace and the long balls used to exploit it.
21 min: Apologies that the system is a bit slow this evening. Not as bad as this afternoon, but… Diarra is penalised for a foul on Alexis after catching him with his knee in the centre-circle. Puyol goes on a marauding run up the middle from the free-kick but runs into Ramos who stops him in his tracks with the help of Xabi Alonso, takes the ball and speeds off towards halfway.
23 min: Messi is fouled by Coentrao to the right of the box. Messi curls in a cross that tursn into a shot because no one followed it in. Casillas catches it.
25 min: Ozil tries his luck with a left-foot shot from 30 yards. It hits the underside of the bar and bounces down, Pinto thoroughly beaten, and lands inches infront of the goalline and bobbles away from danger.
26 min: Real have carved out half a dozen efforts on goal so far, the latest from Higuain when Pinto's sidefooted clearance is hit straight to the Argentinian. He gets out of jail when Higian's shot from the right of the six-yard box is straight at him. Real are having a party in the spaces between the full backs and centre-backs.
29 min: Iniesta goes off with an injured arm. Pedro on for Barça. "nto is a great second choice keeper. Not as skillful as VV, obviously, but with fine work ethic, and really like a team mascot," writes Ceci Marjakangas. "He's good friends with the resident Argentines, Messi and Mascherano, too, always having barbecues with them, and a producer of hip hop music. Whatever happened to AC Jimbo playing some music produced by Wahin (Pinto) on the Football Weekly? He said he would (before last week's Clasico), and that he loves the stuff. Looking forward to it, win or lose!" I'll tell him to spin the disc.
31 min: Alexis's pace forces Coentrao backwards to turn and clear but he does it well. Great shot of Barça tiki-takaing it about midfield with Real lined up with a back four and a tight five in midfield watching there every move. Dani Alves wins a cheap and wrong free-kick when Ronaldo tackles him fairly. It's 25-30 yards out, wide on the right.
33 min: Xavi aims for Puyol but Ramos knocks it clear. Back come the home side and win a corner when Ronaldo diligently tracks back and gets his tackle in.
35 min: What a pass from Xavi, going 20 yards, arrowing down the inside-right channel to meet Alexis's run. Slide-rule, as the cold description had it. Alexis is squeezed out by covering defenders and Barça take the corner.
37 min: The ineffable Pepe then decides while they're waiting for the corner to go down clutching his face when someone breathes on him. He'd trip over a daisy that lad. Should have been booked.
39 min: A replay shows that Ramos's overhead kick was blocked by Abidal's hand, held in front of his face. Gerry Armstrong's seen them given. But I didn't think it was a penalty.
41 min: Barça have looked rattled at the back at times this half and Ronaldo is playing very well, linking up with Ozil. Barça are being harried in midfield but they still manage to make themselves space. Pique and Busquets, though, sandwich Ronaldo and Real have a free kick in their own haldf which Ramos takes quickly, from the wrong spot, trying to get Messi booked for not retreating.
GOAL!! Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid (Pedro) Brilliant movement from Messi, darting from right infield, opening his body to poke a pass between Ramos and Xabi Alonso to the left of the penalty area where Pedro advances a yard and finishes with a sharp shot.
44 min: Messi is booked for clattering Pepe on the calf. Huge cheer from the home fans. Pepe does three roly-poly revolutions.
45 min: Lassana Diarra chops down Messi. He's already on a card. The referee doersn't send him off. Barça's players go berserk at the referee's decision. Casillas pokes his nose in, shoving Busquets and he gets booked.
GOAL!! Barça 2-0 Real Madrid (Dani Alves)Free kick on the left of the box, taken by Xavi. Hits Diarra in the wall and ricochets off to the right-hand side of the area where Dani Alves runs on to it and lashes it first time into the top right-hand corner of the goal.
That's half-time: Back in 10 minutes. Right. Stan writes: "I know like me you're a Leeds fan and are used to scintillating footy day in day out but you're seriously underplaying this match. It's flipping outstanding. The tiki takaing before Xavi' s slide rule pass (min 35) was unbelievable. That would have been the greatest goal scored since Mel Sterland and Lee Chapman's day." Sorry if that how it's coming across. It's been a fine game. Henry Buckle Loveless takes issue with a part of that point: "Another Barcelona MBM, another 20 uses of the term 'slide-rule'. How old are your readers?" Justin Kavanagh has been watching Cristiano: "The sour face on Ronaldo when his nemesis scored was priceless. I think he might just take his ball and go home at half-time. The contrast with the class of Messi – even when he loses – couldn't be any sharper. He is a big, sad child." Rai Skrupskis takes humorous issue with "Ineffable" Pepe: "I can think of an F word for Pepe." And one for Alves's goal. He ineffably larruped it.
Just time for Jon Butcher: "The Geordie just said that Messi put the ball through to Pepe 'on a burnished platter'. And when Ozil hit the crossbar he screamed like Ned Flanders." Okaley Dokely. You have to press F5 for the goal descriptions I'm afraid. There's nothing I can do about it, sadly. They are there. Sebastian Schlund asks: "Anyboy else thinking Pinto is looking like the weird bowling-guy from Big Lebowski?" Spot on, Sebastian.
46 min: What a lovely bunch some of you are. The goal descriptions are there. Iniesta will be out for at least three weeks.
47 min: Messi picks up the ball in the centre circle, advances a few yards, then taps it to his right. It's played to Fabregas but Pepe tackles him and passes upfield.
49 min: Another wonderful run from Messi through the middle, the ball never more than an inch or two from his left instep. He slaloms past two defenders till he gets to the edge of the D where he's knocked over and wins a free kick.
51 min: Xavi takes the fee-kick with his right-foot aiming for the top right-hand corner of the goal but it flies over, but not by much. Real substitution. Granero on for Real, takes the place of Diarra.
53 min: Ramos puts the ball into the net, smacking his header past Pinto from a free-kick but Alves went to ground and the referee penalises Real for a tug on the Brazilian. Nicholas Kingdrummer has some thoughts: "Absolutely smashing match I think. What's Spanish for the Humbling? I don't wanna be Mourinho now? Polyglot that he is, What language do you think Mourinho swears in mentally?" Any thoughts?
55 min: Pepe is on the floor again, holding his ankle, after Fabregas tackles him from behind. Short delay while he gets treatment. JR in Illinois unmasks "the Geordie". It's not Jimmy Nail: "Yeah, that Geordie is Ray Hudson. He has also said 'Pepe went down easier than a girls blouse.' Then at the start of the second half said something about the only way to slay an elephant is to take a bite out of it. He says a lot of things, some of which make sense."
57 min: Xavi's shot on the edge of the area is blocked but Fabregas and Alves build an attack from the rebound that comes to nothing. Barça's patient possession football in midfield is something to wonder at, one piece of skill from Xavi, playing it off his heel then turning 180 degreess to continue his run was priceless.
59 min: Now Fabregas has been fouled, falling over Ramos's outstretched leg, Benzema comes on for Higuain and Callejon for Kaka.
61 min: Good work from Ozil, taking the ball up the right flank with his left foot before playing it with the outside of his boot to Ronaldo who knocks it ahead of himself and sprints on to recover, past Abidal but it's a blind alley and Barça clear, Busquets hitting the deck when Xabi Alonso comes near him.
63 min: The crowd is Olé-ing as Barça string 15 passes together before the move is stopped by a foul. Aaron Woolsey writes: "Pinto's having a terrible game. And judging by the frequency of players charging at the referee, perhaps a matador's outfit would suit him better?"
65 min: Arbeloa has a strong run up the right, getting past Pique who slips. He makes it to the byline and clips in a cross to the far post where Callejon mistimes his jump, makes a bad connection and ruins an excellent chancde.
67 min: Xavi to Messi who flicks a gorgeous pass out to pedro on the right, 40 yards from goal. The linesman says he's offside but Coentrao hadn't stepped up in time. From the free-kick Granero has a chance, a difficult chance, with a long volley, but spanks it over.
GOAL!! Barça 2-1 Real Madrid (Ronaldo) Ozil and Ronaldo, who have been ace in tandem together tonight, link up. Ozil threads a pass to the right of the box where Ronaldo takes it wide of Pinto and slots it in the net from a tight angle.
69 min: F5 for the goal description. Nicholas has an alternative perspective of proceedings and "the Humbling": "For some reason fans suddenly think individual games and Cups mean more than the league. 5pts clear of Barcelona tells me, as a Chelsea fan, that Mourinho is far from humbled."
GOAL!! Barça 2-2 Real Madrid (Benzema)Pique's clearancfe from the right-back position is headed back towards the Barcelona goal by Xabi Alonso where Benzema runs on to it, shimmies and shoots past Pinto.
72 min: This is compelling. The first 10 minutes of the second half had Real looking spent but they've fought back well and Benzema's touch on his thigh that got him past Puyol to score, which I didn't see from the back, was wonderful, Ronaldo just squandered a chance when set up by Ozil but he couldn't get any contact to finish.
75 min: Coentrao hits a cross from the left that skips through to Ozil on the right and he shoots and earns a corner, which is overhit.
77 min: Richard Block mwith more on Ray Hudson: "I can't watch this live but I look forward to the highlights, as much for Ray Hudson as for the actual clips from the game. You should look up the ones from last week, in which Hudson screamed like a five year old when Messi scored and then said that he was like Mr Spock - Vulcan amazing. He capped off his performance by saying, after Messi's solo goal, that he runs "like he's got a food mixer down his shorts." This was the main source of amusement for my friend and me as we awaited the beginning of our pub quiz last night here in southern California." Now Alexis falls in the box when played in by Messi. Pepe puts the full weight of his body into him but the ref doesn't think it's a penalty.
78 min: Real come straight back with a ball from the left that Benzema rushes on to but Puyol and Pinto squeeze him out. Alexis off for Barça, Mascherano on.
80 min: Adriano had previously come on for Fabregas. Messi takes another foul, this time for Coentrao after Ramos tries to drag Messi down by grabbing on to his waist. Messi takes it, maybe 30 yards out, to the right of goal. It gets up and over the wall but not down in time to get under the bar.
82 min: Barça scramble the ball away after Benzema's header plays in Ronaldo running into the box on the left. Mourinho is up off his bench. Stoked, he is. Then Barça launch the counter with Messi barrelling through the middleand touches it, to of all people, Pique running into the box. he can't get there. Seconds later from the clearance Messi shoots from range six inches past the right post.
84 min: Barça are counterpunching with real verve. Ceci Marjakangas thinks it's time to spread the blame: "Very poor defending from Barcelona. You can't blame Pinto alone for these lapses in concentration and sheer complacency. Pinto's playing at his level. All the different formations Pep's been trying this season have had their effect and the fine blaugrana machine is not running as smoothly anymore. Anyhow, Masche should have started. He's great at reading the game and has a brilliant positional sense (instilled in him by Rafa Benitez), which cannot be lost even in Pep's ambitious changes. In some ways, the FCB defence has reminded me of that of the current Chelsea squad, lost at sea."
86 min: Real corner finds Ronaldo at the far post, he doesn't go for goal, though, and tries to play in Benzema and gets caught beween two stools. Barça clear.
88 min: Now Puyol fouls Benzema wide on the right, inviting another cross into the box. They haven't dealt with crosses at all well but this time Pique heads it away.
Red card!! Sergio Ramos
89 min: Ramos has been sent off for the 13th time for Real for clipping Busquets with his arm when they went up for a header. It was a second bookable offence but whether there was intent or indeed whether he touched him much is open to debate. Gerry Armstrong certainly thinks it was farcical.
90 min: There'll be three minutes of added time. Pedro has just spun a tame header at Casillas. Callejon and Puyol clash, Callejon wearing Puyol's hair and forehead.
90 min+2: Pepe is the next recipient of a yellow card, the eighth to a Real player, for going through the back of Dani Alves. Pedro tries to take the steam out of it by dawdling up the left but Real get it back.
90 min +3: They can't make any headway, though, before the referee calls time.
Full time: Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid (Barcelona win 4-3 on aggreagate and will play the winner of Valencia v Levante in the semi-final) That was a really enjoyable game. Wonderful skill, courage and intelligence from some, petty gamesmanship and bad defebding from others. Thanks for your emails, well apart from the two which seemed to be addressed to Colin Hunt about the goal description issue. Good night.