The last time FC Barcelona and Real Madrid met in the Copa del Rey, Cristiano Ronaldo and company took the trophy in the Final. Unfortunately for “Los Blancos,” the dropping and destroying that trophy from their victory parade bus is what people remember more than actually winning. For Ronaldo, Barca is that thorn preventing aspirations for soccer supremacy and getting over that hump will be a true test of his status in the sport’s history. Ronaldo and Madrid looked optimistic in a competition where they’ve already beaten their rivals.
Last night’s Copa match Ronaldo started off strong. Receiving a spectacular through ball from French teammate Karim Benzema, Ronaldo’s step-over and strike put Madrid up one goal early. Barcelona countered with many chances but coming up empty by the half. The second half proved better for Barcelona with a corner kick diving header from captain Carles Puyol and later a winning goal from Eric Abidal lobbed over from a brilliant pass from Messi. And continuing on the tone from recent El Clasico matches, there was an ugly move from Madrid center back Pepe, stepping on Messi’s hand while he was recovering from a foul from Jose Callejon. Intentional or not, Pepe proved to be the flop of the match leaving Puyol unmarked on his goal as well as a dive to the grass worthy of an Oscar award.
There’s no doubt Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best in the world. Let’s not forget Real Madrid lead the Spanish Premier Division over Barcelona by five points. But you’d have to admit the moment shift between the two clubs usually is attributed to their head-to-head match ups. Obviously there is another leg to play in the Copa del Rey between the two but with Barcelona up a goal and going back to their stadium, Camp Nou – Madrid again will have another large mountain to climb to victory.
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, although touted by many pundits as a mastermind on the pitch remains to be stumped on how to unlock the puzzle that is Barcelona’s game. He’ll get a few more chances to do so but if another season ends up leaving the Madristas without silverware, the manager may end up in the hot seat for fans clamoring to return to their former glory. Let’s say Madrid flounder and Mourinho gets axed – where does that leave his team? Would it be far-fetched to think Ronaldo resorts to leaving Madrid to join another squad more capable of dethroning the mighty Barcelona? If history repeats, that might be an option. The fact is Madrid still lead their league and still are in contention for the Champions League as well as one more game against Barca. If the tipping point were anytime, next week’s rematch may be the time for Ronaldo kick his way into the ranks of iconic status.
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