Supercopa tie still 'completely open', stresses Vilanova

Tito Vilanova - FC Barcelona

Tito Vilanova – FC Barcelona

Tito Vilanova tasted success on his Clasico debut as a coach, as Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-2 at Camp Nou, but was quick to stress that the Supercopa tie remains finely poised ahead of next week’s return at the Bernabeu.

The former assistant to Pep Guardiola was content to have emerged victorious against Jose Mourinho but is aware that there is a long way to go before his side can collect the trophy.

Speaking to the media post-match, he stated: “I think we played a good game, we had control most of the time, against Madrid you can’t expect not to give away chances.

“Of course, this result isn’t decisive, for either of the teams. The tie is still completely open, certainly against a team like Madrid. They have talented players, they can score from few chances.”

The 42-year-old also refused to blame Victor Valdes after Angel Di Maria capitalised on his goalkeeping error to bring Real Madrid back into the tie in the closing stages.

He added: “He has given us a lot the past years, he should continue.

“4-1 was close, it became 3-2, that’s football, it can happen. But I stick with how we played. Now, off to the Bernabeu.”

Barcelona visit Osasuna this Sunday in La Liga before the second leg of the Supercopa at the Santiago Bernabeu next Wednesday evening.

Zubizarreta: Valdes shouldn't be lambasted for Supercopa error

Andoni Zubizarreta has leapt to the defence of Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes, after his error gifted Real Madrid a late goal and left the second-leg of the Supercopa delicately poised at 3-2 in Barcelona’s favour.

After going a goal down to Cristiano Ronaldo’s header, the Blaugrana were brought to life and strikes from Pedro, Lionel Messi and Xavi looked to have put the tie beyond Madrid’s reach. However, after Valdes failed to control a simple back pass, Angel di Maria nipped in to reduce the defect, and both teams will have everything to play for at Santiago Bernabeu on August 29th.

Speaking to TVE after the game, Zubizarreta told reporters: “Mistakes are part of a goalkeeper’s career. Victor has saved us far more goals than he has conceded over the years – I’m sure that after tonight he will go on to have a perfect season.”

Commenting on the match’s winning goal, created by a superb run from Andreas Iniesta, Zubizarreta said: “Iniesta is a player who always appears, and his positional play leads to so many attacking chances. When it comes to the final pass, he sees what others do not see.”

Spanish forward Pedro believes the Catalans should have won the tie by a greater margin, after Tito Vilanova’s side put on an exhibition of attacking play during the second half at Camp Nou.

Pedro told TVE: “I don’t think the result reflects the chances we created in the second half. We will have to approach the second leg with a lot of concentration.”

However, Pedro remains optimistic about Barca’s chances. “It’s a blow, but to win against your rival is always important. Now we will have to put on a great show at the Bernabeu.”

Linesman made a 'big mistake', insists Mourinho

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho believes that the linesman made a “big mistake” by allowing Pedro’s goal to stand during his side’s 3-2 defeat to Barcelona in the first leg of their Supercopa tie.

The Spain forward scored Barca’s equaliser on 56 minutes after sprinting ahead of Fabio Coentrao, but replays suggested that he may have strayed fractionally offside in the buildup.

“The first goal for Barcelona was a big mistake by the linesman, and that is it,” declared Mourinho to reporters after the match.

The Portuguese trainer also expressed his thoughts on his team’s performance, while reserving words of praise for winger Jose Callejon.

“I did not like our first half, but in the second half, it was a different game.

“Callejon played well. He prepared the game for Di Maria. This was an important game and I liked his work,” 

The second leg of the Supercopa is set to be played at Santago Bernabeu in six days’ time, but both sides will be in action in La Liga over the weekend, with Madrid facing Getafe and Barcelona taking on Osasuna.

Marcelo: Supercopa is far from over

Marcelo is confident that Real Madrid can still win the Supercopa when Barcelona visit the Santiago Bernabeu for the second leg.

Speaking to TVE after his side’s 3-2 Clasico defeat at Camp Nou, the Brazilian left-back was pleased with Los Blancos’ performance and believes his side have the advantage going into the return leg.

We ran all the time. We played the ball on the ground. We conceded three goals but we can count on the support of the fans to win at the Bernabeu.

It’s completely open, but we have to work and concentrate on the match because it will be very hard.”

The second leg of the Supercopa kicks off at 20:30 UTC on Wednesday.

Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid: Xavi clinches narrow first-leg triumph

Barcelona drew first blood against Real Madrid in the battle for Spanish supremacy this season, narrowly defeating their great rivals 3-2 in the first leg of their Supercopa clash at Camp Nou on Thursday.

However, a moment of madness from Victor Valdes gifted Angel Di Maria a goal with five minutes to go, leaving matters finely poised for the second leg in six days at Santiago Bernabeu.

A cagey first-half saw the home side dominate the ball, but struggle to find a way through a resilient rearguard effort from Jose Mourinho’s men. But the match changed completely in the second half, as Cristiano Ronaldo gave the visitors a shock lead in the 55th minute with a header from a corner.

Barca would hit back instantly through Pedro, before a Lionel Messi penalty and a beautifully worked goal from Xavi put them in the driving seat. Valdes’ error then provided Di Maria with the easiest of finishes.

Tito Vilanova dropped Christian Tello to the bench for Alexis Sanchez, despite the former’s impressive performance in the 5-1 win over Real Sociedad last weekend, while new signing Alex Song did not make the match day squad in time.

Mourinho, meanwhile, drafted in Raul Albiol in the centre of defence for the injured Pepe, while Karim Benzema started as the lone striker ahead of Gonzalo Higuain.

Madrid started brightly, but were not able to sustain it for long as Barca began to assert their dominance in the middle of the park, with Andres Iniesta in particular looking lively.

Messi should have found the target in the 19th minute after latching on to Dani Alves’ cutback just inside the box, but his effort flew the wrong side of the post. The Argentine would miss an even better chance 10 minutes later, poking wide from a good position after dancing around two defenders in the area.

The match seemed to be settling into a war of attrition, though Pedro almost livened things up on the half hour mark with a swerving shot that forced Casillas to save at full stretch.

The home fans were up in arms in the 38th minute, though, after a theatrical tumble from Sanchez from a challenge by Fabio Coentrao in the box went unacknowledged by the referee.

It was a hopeful shout at best, and the game began to get scrappy as the first half ended. First, Arbeloa was shown yellow for flattening Busquets, before Javier Mascherano joined him in the book after chopping down Coentrao.

Busquets was not having an easy time in the middle of the park, and was felled again by Albiol shortly after the restart, for which the Madrid defender also saw yellow.

The Barcelona midfielder would then make a fatal error in the 55th minute, as he lost sight of Ronaldo defending a corner, allowing the Portuguese to nod the visitors into a surprise lead.

Madrid’s joy lasted only seconds though, as straight from kick-off, Barca drew level.

Mascherano’s searching ball from his own half picked out Pedro on the left, who accelerated away from Coentrao to slot the hosts back on terms, despite calls from the visitors for offside.

The shackles were finally off, as Barca looked to press ahead. Alves was picked out by Messi on the overlap, only for Casillas to tip his low shot around the post.

Then, with 68 minutes gone, a clumsy tackle by Sergio Ramos brought down Iniesta in the area, giving referee Gomez no choice but to point to the spot. Messi stepped up to send Casillas the wrong way and put Barcelona back in front.

Xavi appeared to put matters beyond any doubt 10 minutes later after slotting home from a superb setup from Iniesta, who ghosted past multiple challenges before putting the chance on a plate for his midfield colleague.

However, in the 85th minute, a howler from Valdes dragged Madrid back into the game and the tie.

The Barcelona keeper appeared to be under little pressure when collecting a backpass, but saw the ball stick under his feet, allowing Di Maria enough time to steal in and poke into the back of the net, giving the visitors a lifeline for the second-leg.