It's been an entertaining 45 minutes of football in the Spanish Super Cup, but neither Barcelona or Real Madrid has been able to separate themselves from the other, and they're locked up at 0-0. Barcelona have been well on top in possession, as everyone expects going into any of their matches, but they have struggled to create clear scoring opportunities and have not made the most of their half chances.
Real Madrid looked very good pressing and getting out on the counter-attack in the opening 15 minutes of the match, but Barcelona were eventually able to settle down in a rhythm and set up camp in Madrid's half of the pitch. Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso and the Madrid defense did well to win possession back and start moves forward, but Madrid's attackers were mostly ineffective in the first half.
Lionel Messi had both of the game's best chances, but was not able to convert on either of them. The first came 18 minutes into the match on a very nice cutback ball by Daniel Alves, which made its way through the defense to Messi at the top of the penalty area. Messi had a shooting lane, but pulled his shot wide. He had a similar-looking shot in the 29th minute after he danced through a bit of traffic, but produced the same result.
Barcelona also had a penalty shout late in the half, but the referee didn't give the spot kick. Sergio Ramos appeared to make contact with Alexis Sanchez as the Blaugrana forward went down in the box, but Sanchez went down very easily, and he certainly didn't protest when he stood up.
Besides one corner kick late in the half and a good interception by Girard Pique on a through ball intended for Cristiano Ronaldo eight minutes into the match, it's been all one-way traffic thus far. It seems like it's only a matter of time before Barcelona finds the breakthrough, but Real Madrid has held onto 0-0 draws before.
It's also worth noting that Raul Albiol, who is making a rare start in the center of defense for Real Madrid, is seriously playing with fire. He somehow escaped getting booked in the first half and seems intent on being as aggressive as possible until he sees yellow. He probably should have been booked a couple of times in the first half.
Follow live coverage in our Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2012 Spanish Super Cup StoryStream. For more on the Blaugrana, head over to FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. For more on Los Blancos, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid.