Real Madrid booked their place in the final of the Supercopa de Espana by securing a narrow 3-2 win over bitter rivals FC Barcelona on Wednesday.
It was an entertaining affair between the two sides in Riyadh as they showcased their attacking prowess to create numerous goalscoring opportunities. It led to a rather even affair, although it was Real Madrid who were far more efficient in front of goal.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men drew first blood in the 25th minute through Vinicius Junior, capitalising on a counter-attack to send Barcelona trailing. However, their lead didn’t last long as Luuk de Jong was a beneficiary to a messy defensive situation that saw the ball find the back of the net just before half-time.
With the scoreline even at the start of the second half, Real Madrid upped the ante, making use of their mighty offensive duo of Vinicius and Karim Benzema, who made no mistake in restoring his side’s lead in the 73rd minute. However, Barca responded quickly yet again, as Ansu Fati’s header beat Thibaut Courtois in goal, leading to Extra Time.
Real Madrid were by far the better team in the extended period. Although it was Barcelona who received the first few opportunities, Los Blancos took advantage of a quick turnover to take the lead once again, this time through Federico Valverde.
Real Madrid takes its third lead of the day vs. Barcelona! Federico Valverde is the one to finish in extra time
— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) January 12, 2022
The goal sent shockwaves through the hearts of the Barcelona fans, with the Catalans failing to create anything in response during the remainder of Extra Time. They were close at the end of the first half of ET but were denied by an excellent double save by Courtois in the Real Madrid goal.
Wednesday’s victory in El Classico means Real Madrid have now secured five back to back wins over their arch-rivals. They are scheduled to play the final later this weekend, against the winner of the other semi-final between Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. The goalscorer Valverde himself will take great pride from his late winner, which should boost his confidence amid recent speculation surrounding his role at the club.
With the team showing a good fighting spirit, Barcelona coach Xavi himself has a few positives to take away from his game as well. It will be interesting to see how the Catalans respond to this defeat, when they take on Athletic Bilbao next week, in the Copa Del Rey Round of 16.