This article was first published on the Spain Football Community
With the Clásico Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in the Bernabéu just a week away, it's a good time time to remind ourselves that this is the third time FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have played each other this season.
The first two games were played in the Spanish Super Cup betweem the Liga Champions and the Copa del Rey Champions on August 14 in the Santiago Bernabéu and August 17 in Camp Nou.
The results were Real Madrid 2 FC Barcelona 2 and FC Barcelona 3 Real Madrid 2.
Over two excellent games both Barça and Madrid showed their cards - exciting physical play from Los Blancos and without ever really dominating the matches, Los Blaugrana showed that irritating touch of class that makes them so dangerous.
The Super cup ended in a brawl and some childish behaviour from Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho - he poked Pep Guardiola's assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye and the Madrid players were called off unsportingly before Barça's victory celebrations.
Anyway, here are the match reports (as I remember them) and I've added videos so you can see the goals.
Real Madrid 2 FC Barcelona 2 - 14/8/2011
The Real Madrid starting line-up was Casillas, Carvalho, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Marcelo, Di Maria, Ózil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema - interestingly exactly the same team that had lost 5-0 to Barça the previous season.
FC Barcelona put out a side made up of Valdés, Abidal, Mascherano, Alves, Adriano, Thiago, Keita, Iniesta, Alexis Sánchez, Messi and Villa. This was new signing Alexis's debut for Barça and young Thiago Alcántara's first game against Real Madrid.
0zil got the first goal for Real Madrid in a nice combination with Benzema in the 13th minute. Following the goal, Real Madrid seemed to take control of the game, but when Barça were at their weakest, Villa beat Casillas with a great shot from the edge of the box to make it 1-1 in minute 35.
Following a free kick against Marcelo, in a trademark individual effort, Messi made it 1-2 just before the ref blew the half-time whistle.
Just after the start of the second half, Coentrao came on for Di Maria in min 53 and a minute later Xabi Alonso knocked another one in from just outside the box to make it 2-2.
Madrid got the best of the rest of the second half but Barça managed to hold out, and although the result was even stevens, were able to catch the plane back home aware that they held a slight advantage over their eternal rivals.
Here's the video of the goals!
FC Barcelona 3 Real Madrid 2 - 17/8/11
There was obviously a lot riding on the second leg - with away goals counting double, Barça had the upper hand. The match certainly didn't disappoint. Tensions were high and, as the photos shows, ended in a players brawl and much more!
Barça started with Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Abidal, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi and Villa. This was exactly the same tieam that had beaten Manchester United 3-1 in the Champions League Final the previous May. I personally was a little surprised to see Cesc Fàbragas start on the bench.
The Real Madrid starting line-up was Casillas, Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho, Coentrao, Alonso, Khedira, Di María, Ozil, Ronaldo and Benzema.
Real Madrid came out of the blocks at a furious pace and definitely got the better of the first 15 minutes - a couple of stellar shots from Cristiano Ronaldo and Di Maria looked particularly dangerous.
But in the 15th minute, against the run of play, a glorious ball from Messi found Iniesta streaking through and Don Andrés chipped the ball over Casillas to give Barca a 3-2 aggregate lead.
Undeterred Real Madrid kept their foot on the accelerator and in the middle of some confusion due to an uncalled penalty, Benzema took a snipe from the edge of Barça's box, which Ronaldo just needed to push home to make the score 1-1. Barça still had the advantage, but Madrid looked lethal and with speed and skill, were managing to suffocate Barça's midfield game.
The rest of the first half was a combination of Madrid pressure that included a crossbar for Cristiano Ronaldo and a couple of saves from Valdés and spurts of genius from Barça. And in the 45th minute, Barça turned on the genius once again. In the middle of a scramble in the Real Madrid box, Pique back-heeled to Messi, who clipped the ball over Casillas to give Barça the advantage once again. FC Barcelona went into the half-time break winning the game 2-1 and leading 4-3 on aggregate. It was difficult to imagine that the second half could top the first but Madrid still had everything to play for.
The second half began slowly but after five minutes it was end to end thrills and spills again, with both sides having scoring chances - both goalkeepers were on great form! Bookings for Ronaldo, Marcelo and axeman Pepe. Higuain, Adriano and Kaka came on for Di Maria, Villa and Ozil, but Cesc kept warming up.
Then in the 82nd Madrid got a corner, which Benzema managed to knock home after a goal mouth scramble. 2-2 with ten minutes to go. Everything was even and it looked like the game would go into extra time.
Cesc Fàbregas came on in the 84th and the substition proved provident. In a great move in minute 88, he combined with Messi, who knocked it out to Adriano. The Argentinian ran into space and volleyed home Adriano's cross to make it 3-2. The crowd went wild and Barça kept up the pressure as the ref added 4 minutes.
In the very last minute of the game, Marcelo got a red card for an awful tackle on Cesc ... and then the fun began.
Obviously, tempers were high and the Madrid players starting pushing and brawling. Some of the Barça players got involved, but the brawl would have been forgotten were it not for Jose Mourinho poking Barcelona's assistant coach Tito Vilanova in the eye, but I'll deal with that in another post.
Here's the video of the highlights!
The important thing was that Barça had got the better of their eternal rivals. They'd won the Spanish Super Cup and the scene was set for a thrilling start to the 2011-12 Liga season!