Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid: Blaugranes Win 3-1 On Aggregate, Progress To UEFA Champions League Final At Wembley Stadium

Barcelona held Real Madrid to a 1-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday, advancing to the Champions League final 3-1 on aggregate. Pedro and Marcelo were the goalscorers for Barcelona and Madrid, but things could have been very different had Gonzalo Higuain's 49th minute goal for Madrid not been disallowed.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 Champions League Semifinal: Aitor Karanka Claims Madrid Should Be 'Proud'

Jose Mourinho was unavailable to speak after Real Madrid's 3-1 aggregate loss against Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals, but assistant coach Aitor Karanka was. There's no word if three-quarters of the media left in protest at not getting to speak to His Specialness, but at least we didn't get a repeat of the press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu - although Karanka did have his own complaints to make:

Mourinho said it was impossible for Real Madrid to win the tie and it was. We stood up to Barcelona while on equal terms. All of Madridismo is outraged after what we saw again tonight. With 41 minutes left the [Gonzalo Higuain] disallowed goal changed a lot. The facts are there.  Everyone said the goal was good.

The entire world saw it and will continue to see it. Thousands watched the first match as well as today's. I already said that today's officiating would be easy because the tie was virtually over after what took place in the Bernabeu. The coach was right yet again. We finished eleven on eleven and in four matches there were two draws, one victory and one defeat. Had we arrived here with a 0-0 in the first leg and eleven players...

...

Fans again saw what this team is all about. The players proved that they know how to play when allowed to. They displayed different methods of playing and different options, and while we were on equal terms we stood up to Barcelona. Madridistas should be proud of everything they have seen in the last month.

While it's easy to see why he'd think the goal should have been given, it's more difficult to reconcile his broader comments with the context of series of matches between Barcelona and Real Madrid over the past few weeks. In only one of those has Real Madrid really deserved anything from the match - the Copa del Rey final, which they duly won 1-0 - and even before the red cards in their league match and the first leg of the Champions League semifinal they were being outplayed by their rivals.

Should Madrid fans feel annoyed and hard done by in general? Probably, yes. The Pepe red card, in particular, was a major blow to their hopes of progressing to Wembley. But that doesn't mean they deserved to go through. Barcelona were better across the pitch. At one level, Real Madrid were victims of gross injustice. But taking a step further back, the better team won. And it wasn't close.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid Final Score: 1-1 Draw Enough To See Hosts Win 3-1 On Aggregate

We were expecting a disappointing, sterile match after Barcelona won the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu. In that match, Madrid midfielder Pepe was sent off in rather controversial circumstances with the score at 0-0, leading to an amusing/embarrassing (delete as desired) rant about a conspiracy to let Barcelona win the match because they're good friends with Unicef. It wasn't exactly the best of tones to set for the second leg, which seemed like it would be either a snoozer or a gruesome, leg-snapping experience.

For the first half hour, both teams chose option number one. Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain were surprise inclusions in the visitors' starting eleven, Mourinho presumably hoping they'd add something to the attack that the likes of Mesut Ozil and Emmanuel Adebayor could not. This did not appear to be the case, as neither team could get anything approaching penetration for the opening thirty minutes - the closest we came to a goal being a rather poor effort from Sergio Busquets from a corner that went straight to Iker Casillas.

Then things perked up, mostly because Lionel Messi had had enough of all of that nonsense. The little forward started scything through the Madrid defence, generating chance after chance in the last fifteen minutes of the half. Casillas stood strong, however, with a series of wold-class saves - he really was the difference between the sides in the first half. Madrid responded by having Ricardo Carvalho foul Messi. A lot. He was booked for his first challenge on the game, but his second and third (both int he first half) received no punishment whatsoever and the defender was getting away scot-free with everything. It seemed as though the conspiracy talk had worked its magic.

Oh, and Madrid also tried to go on the attack once or twice, but mostly just wasted promising positions by crossing the ball straight to Victor Valdes. They won their first corner at the very end of the match, but it was an impossibly poor one, rather neatly encapsulating their attacking prowess.

Common wisdom stated that Real Madrid needed a goal before halftime to remain anything like competitive in the fixture while also not conceding further, but a goal right at the beginning of the second would be more or less the same thing and they were very, very close to getting it. Cristiano Ronaldo, who'd been the star of the show for the visitors in the first half, ran down the middle before being shoved over by Gerard Pique. The ball ran through to Higuain, who clipped one of the neatest finishes you'll ever see past Valdes and into the back of the net.

Cue madcap celebrations from Real Madrid. But wait! Referee Frank de Bleeckere had blown his whistle for a foul by Ronaldo on centre half Javier Mascherano. Apparently, an attacking player being hurled into another player by a defender is now a foul on the attack, which I admit is nothing I'd ever seen before. The goal didn't stand, the chance was gone (my opinion, for whatever that's worth, is that it was a foul by Pique and advantage should have been played), and it was Barcelona's turn to inflict some damage.

Real's need for a goal had led them to start the attack in promising form, but it also opened up space at the back. Eventually that was going to be exploited, and exploited it was. Even for Barcelona, it was a brilliant pass, with Andres Iniesta the architect. The midfielder, returning to the side following an injury, eviscerated the visitors' defence with an absolutely beautiful through pass that Pedro took in his strike, finishing smoothly past a helpless Casillas.

With a 3-0 aggregate lead and barely half an hour left to play, Barcelona were home and dry. Madrid seemed to agree, withdrawing Higuain for the hulking figure of Emmanuel Adebayor, whose mandate appeared to be mostly 'act thuggish'. Kaka's removal came soon thereafter, with Mesut Ozil taking his place - and then something strange happened. Madrid started playing well.

The equaliser was something of a surprise, with Angel di Maria dancing into the box and absolutely leathering a  shot onto the near post. He was a little bit fortunate in that the rebound came straight back to him, and he was then able to feed left back Marcelo to finish easily past a now-stranded Valdes. 1-1, 3-1 on aggregate, and Madrid needed two goals in 25 minutes to go through to the final. Game on? Enh.

Although the visitors played hard for a few minutes longer, Barcelona reasserted control and allowed the game to turn into a what amounted to a series of fouls and yellow cards by Madrid. If the visitors had scored again, it would have set up a frenetic finish, but they didn't - about the only noteworthy moment towards the end of the game came when Eric Abidal made his first Barcelona appearance in months after recovering from liver surgery, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd at Camp Nou.

Two and a bit minutes of injury time later, and that was that - Barcelona had won the semi-final 3-1 on aggregate and have a date in Wembley for the final. Schalke or Manchester United will be their opponents (United hold a two-goal lead ahead of tomorrow's match at Old Trafford), but no matter who they face in the final, you'd have to expect Barcelona to be favourites to reclaim their crown as champions of Europe.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Eric Abidal Makes Return

Welcome back, Eric Abidal. The defender had been sidelined since February after an operation to remove a tumour in his liver, and and now he's back on the pitch at the Camp Nou. With the match won, Pep Guardiola chooses to introduce him for captain Carles Puyol, resulting in a minute-long standing ovation from the Barcelona faithful. That's a lovely touch by Guardiola.

Pedro's off now too after being landed on by Marcelo in an aerial battle, something nobody takes particularly seriously. He is substituted for Ibrahim Afellay, but the new face doesn't get to see any action: That's the last move of the match, the referee blowing his whistle thirty seconds early to send Barcelona into the Champions League final and Real Madrid crashing out. This was a pretty good match, if one devoid of much tension - it's a real shame that it wasn't the first leg!

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Emmanuel Adebayor Finally Shown Yellow After Foul On Lionel Messi

Emmanuel Adebayor's yellow card has been coming, and he earns it thanks to a foul on poor Lionel Messi, who is getting beaten up every time he's near the ball (and in those instances where Real Madrid players can catch him, which aren't particularly frequent). It looks like Frank De Bleeckere is going to be bizarrely lenient, but eventually he issues the striker-cum-destroyer a yellow card.

While I'm sure that Madrid are happy to be winning the ball from time to time, they're not coming anywhere close to scoring and are about to drop out of the Champions League. That said, it's a much better performance from the visitors than we saw last week. At least they're occasionally putting together something resembling an interesting attack. It's just not going to be enough - Barcelona are headed to Wembley for the Champions League final. And Lionel Messi very nearly caps off the match with a stinging free kick  blocked by Iker Casillas (is that his first save of the half?).

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Pedro Booked For Tackle On Lassana Diarra

Gerard Pique is leaving the field of play after hurting a finger during a bit of a melee which saw him kicked rather hard in the hand by Emmanuel Adebayor for no reason whatsoever shortly after Javier Mascherano knocked over Cristiano Ronaldo with the Portuguese in a promising position. The free kick is given Barcelona's way and Pique wanders off the field in some pain before suddenly having a change of hart and sprinting back on at the next opportunity. That's quite odd, considering how hurt he looked.

Now both goalscorers have been booked and - Pedro came in very late on Lassana Diarra and the French midfielder can only take a few tentative steps before coughing up possession. And this is interesting - Diarra, who also has a booking, has... just won a tackle against Javier Mascherano completely fairly. Mascherano writhes on the ground in pain - it's actually pretty similar to the Pepe challenge on Alves in the last leg... and Frank De Bleeckere merely gives a free kick. Excellent!

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Marcelo Sends Lionel Messi Tumbling; Is Booked

Barcelona make their first substitution, and it's Seydou Keita on for David Villa. Andres Iniesta will push up into the front three to accommodate Keita in the midfield. Barcelona press high and win the ball off the pitch, switch play over to the right side (actually, it's more of a botched cross), and see Lionel Messi sent tumbling by a crunching tackle courtesy of goalscorer Marcelo, who is booked. IN slow motion, it turns out that he got a slight nick on the ball, but at full speed it looked well worthy of a booking, which was duly issued.

That fire from Madrid which accompanied their opening goal has abated a little bit, and Barcelona are reasserting control of the match. It's been a little while since the visitors had any sort of meaningful possession in the Barcelona half, which surely isn't a good sign with them needing a pair of goals in the fifteen minutes they have left to play.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Xabi Alonso Booked

We haven't had a Real Madrid foul in the last thirty seconds ago, so Xabi Alonso goes in hard and late on Lionel Messi, earning himself a yellow card for his troubles. That was a little bit pointless from the ex-Liverpool man, but it's not really a very big deal in the grand scheme of things, I suppose. All Real need to do is score and not concede - yellow cards are a secondary concern at best.

Speaking of fouls, though, Javier Mascherano should have just conceded one after sliding in on Mesut Ozil as the German was attempting to skip through a crowd of Barcelona shirts on the right side. He succeeds but has to jump out of the way of what could have been a nasty challenge from Mascherano, and then the ball rolls out of play and it's a rather fortunate goal kick for Victor Valdes.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Marcelo Makes It 1-1

Wow. That's an instant impression from the Mesut Ozil-conducted Real Madrid attack. Good work in the centre entually sees Angel di Maria obliterating Dani Alves on the edge of the box, skipping into the Barcelona penalty and then beating Victor Valdes at his near post. Unfortunately for di Maria's personal glory, his shot is a little too good. It cannons off the upright and straight back at him, so he feeds the ball to left back Marcelo, who makes no mistake in finishing past Valdes and having Real Madrid new life. So that's 1-1, and the decision to disallow Gonzalo Higuain's earlier goal is now looking extremely interesting.

Madrid still need two goals in 25 minutes to get through, but that's a lot better than three. Game on at the Camp Nou?

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Lassana Diarra Earns Booking; Kaka Off For Mesut Ozil

So it's 1-0 Barcelona and now Real Madrid are just going to go into full-fledged angry mode. Emmanuel Adebayor's first contribution is to foul everyone in sight, Ricardo Carvalho-style, and soon after a Madrid player joins Carvalho in Frank de Bleeckere's book for naughty boys. It's not Adebayor, however - instead it's Lassana Diarra who's issued a caution after he wins the ball but goes through Pedro in the process.

Kaka, meanwhile, is off the pitch, with Mesut Ozil replacing him, which is a move which, again, seems totally pointless. Real have half an hour to score three goals at the Camp Nou, without conceding anybody in the process. They'd be just as well off introducing a swarm of bees  or Jose Mourinho's pet lion Fred. This game is done and dusted. Prediction: There will be at least one major injury suffered by a Barcelona player this half.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Pedro Fires Barcelona Into Lead

We've already had more life out of Real Madrid in this half than in the last. Gonzalo Higuain is making some very interesting runs from deep, and the visitors are looking for him at every opportunity. He's already had a goal disallowed in this half and now Barcelona are saved by a legitimate intervention, Carles Puyol sprinting back to slide away a pass that looked destined to meet the hitman's foot. Real have now earned a corner after a mixup between Andres Iniesta and Puyol gave Higuain the ball and room to break, but the striker tries a long range shot instead and the ball goes behind. The set piece is thoroughly wasted.

And Barcelona have scored! That is the tie over! Pedro is given an absolutely perfect through-ball by Iniesta and he finishes brilliantly low past Iker Casillas - it looks like Alvaro Arbeloa was playing him onside on the far right. There's no way back now for Madrid, although things could have been very different had Higuain's goal counted. Higuain is now off for Emmanuel Adebayor, which is pointless.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: 2nd Half Underway; Gonzalo Higuain Denied Legitimate Goal

Fox Soccer Channel's pundits have suggested that Real Madrid take off Kaka for Mesut Ozil and Karim Benzema, which I think if I were Jose Mourinho I would do in a second. Alas for the visitors, 12 vs. 11 is not going to happen. Anyway, the second half is belatedly underway at the Camp Nou, with Madrid kicking off (and have made no changes) after a pitch invader evaded the attention of the match stewards for a few seconds before being brought down.

The rain's picked up a little in Barcelona, and it took about an eighth of a second for Lassana Diarra to commit a foul. Madrid get the ball back quickly and Cristiano Ronaldo surges through the defence and slips a pass to Gonzalo Higuain, being knocked over by Gerard Pique into Javier Mascherano in the process. Higuain finishes very cooly past Victor Valdes, but the goal doesn't count - Ronaldo's been whistled for a 'foul' on Mascherano. Granted, he took the Argentinian down, but he was in the process of being knocked over by Pique at the time. Ludicrous decision there - that's a goal for me.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: 0-0 At Halftime

It's 0-0 at halftime in a game that sprung to life after half an hour, with Barcelona sending in a flurry of chances which were kept out thanks to some excellent goalkeeping by Iker Casillas. Real Madrid have had some half-chances of their own, but have yet to really test Victor Valdes, and the hosts almost certainly deserve to be ahead. Madrid aren't technically out of things yet, but they needed a goal in that half, and they haven't got one. Or anything even approximating one.

There are some other interesting developments to tell you about last half, and it mostly involves Ricardo Carvalho picking up an early booking and then proceeding to foul everyone in sight (especially Lionel Messi). It appears that Frank de Bleeckere issued him a get-out-of-everything card instead of the yellow, which is leading to some odd scenes at the Camp Nou. There's less diving today, which is nice. I didn't think Sergio Busquets had it in him.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Ricardo Carvalho Continues To Get Away With Murder

David Villa misses a one on one with Iker Casillas, smacking the ball into the goalkeeper's knees, but no matter as the Spainish striker is adjudged to have been offside. If the flag hadn't been up, he'd have had a lot of explaining to do at half time.

Also, is Ricardo Carvalho trying to get himself sent off? The defender, already on a booking, crunches in to the back of Lionel Messi yet again and goes begging to Frank De Bleeckere not to issue a card. The referee obliges for no reason I can discern, but how is Carvalho not off the pitch? So much for that conspiracy (perhaps the intent of Jose Mourinho in declaring there was one).

Anyway, there's one minute of extra time at the end of the first half, and nothing much happens except for Real Madrid winning and then wasting a corner. That wasn't very exciting, was it?

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Another Lionel Messi Shot, But Madrid Getting Chances Too

Goodness, it's another chance for Lionel Messi. The ball pings around the box and suddenly drops onto the Argentine's feet at the edge of the area. His shot is on target but beaten away yet again by Iker Casillas, who's been excellent so far. But now there are chances for Real Madrid, too.

Gonzalo Higuain speeds in behind the Barcelona defence, but his attempted cross is deflected into the grateful arms of Victor Valdes, and a Barcelona corner later Cristiano Ronaldo finds himself running onto a highly promising pass down the right. Angel di Maria lurks in the centre, waiting to convert, but Ronaldo's centering pass is too close to Valdes and the goalkeeper comes out to smother before di Maria can convert. That was very nearly 1-0 Real, a scoreline which would be about as well deserved as Pepe's red card last week.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Barcelona Onslaught Denied By Iker Casillas

That's three quite brilliant moves by Lionel Messi and Barcelona should be ahead - but aren't. First, the forward picks the ball up on the right and cuts to the edge of the penalty box, curling a lovely attempt that's headed for the top corner if not for the intervention of Iker Casillas, who fumbles the shot and then recovers with David Villa looking to poach.

Then, Messi beats two players to skip into the box, but shoots too early and sends an effort well wide, and then he releases David Villa on the left to force Casillas into another excellent save. Pedro has a go too, but it's nothing like testing Casillas. Real Madrid's defence is starting to fall apart, now - this is starting to look like that 5-0 game. Barcelona have stepped it up a notch and it really doesn't look like Madrid are going to be able to survive until halftime unscathed.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Ricardo Carvalho Lucky To Avoid Red

Lionel Messi is really getting beaten up today and Ricardo Carvalho is perhaps more than a little fortunate with with referee Frank De Bleeckere opting not to issue a yellow card for a nasty little tackle by the Portuguese defender through the back of the little forward. Carvalho, of course, has already been booked, and the last thing Madrid want is to go down to ten men at the Camp Nou here.

The free kick is wasted, so Barcelona decide to earn another one when Javier Mascherano opts to dive over Xabi Alonso's outstretched leg. Alsono isn't best pleased by this chain of events, but de Bleeckere ignores him. I think it was pretty rude, though. Real Madrid finally get into the Barcelona box a little while afterwards, but Cristiano Ronaldo's nod back to the centre after being found in space is a) to nobody and b) with his hands, so that isn't really too helpful for their cause.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Sergio Busquets Tests Iker Casillas With Header

Andres Iniesta had the first shot of the match, and fellow Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets now has the first shot on target. A huge scramble in the Real Madrid penalty area eventually leads to Marcelo conceding a corner (truth be told, Barcelona probably should have punished a series of errors with something a little more rewarding than a corner kick) under pressure from Lionel Messi, and although there aren't too many Barcelona players in Iker Casillas's box the delivery falls to Sergio Busquets, who has a free header from about eight yards and directs the effort right at the goalkeeper. Yes, it's on target, but it really wasn't a very good effort.

Cristiano Ronaldo is still very much Real's most interesting attacker - he's on the left with Angel di Maria right, and Dani Alves is having a touch time keeping up. Even with help from Busquets, Alves is lucky to see the ball run just out of play when Ronaldo ghosts past both of them. There's some real threat here, but it hasn't resulted in any penetration. The first attack from Madrid is still probably their best.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Game Opening Up As Messi, Di Maria Make Strong Runs

The game springs to life as a dangerous looking run from each side is thwarted by an excellent defensive challenge. Lionel Messi starts us off with a blistering run down the right channel only to be shouldered off the ball but the much larger Lassana Diarra, sending the Argentine tumbling. Messi protests, but no foul is forthcoming, and Real Madrid can break through Angel di Maria.

Di Maria attempts to do a Messi, blasting towards the Barcelona defence, but as he tries to break into the penalty box he strays too close to Gerard Pique and the defender robs him with a wonderful sliding challenge. Seconds later and Gonzalo Higuain is declared offside at the end of a promising Real Madrid attack - incorrectly, as it turns out. No matter, though, as the ball just about went through to Victor Valdes rather than ending up with the striker, but that was very, very close.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Ricardo Carvalho Booked

We've gone a little bit off the boil now which I'm sure will suit Barcelona just fine. Wait, nevermind. The hosts play out of the back, evading pressure from Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka, and suddenly Lionel Messi is surging up the right wing, leaving Ricardo Carvalho with little choice but to bring him down. He receives a yellow card for his efforts, although it's for a professional foul rather than for any real violence in the challenge.

When the Barcelona players are going directly at their opponents, they're having some real success. If they can continue to drive forwards rather than with slow passes, they might be able to catch their visitors out of position, and with the finishing quality in Pep Guardiola's side that could prove lethal for Madrid, who absolutely must score first. If they do (and they haven't threatened, only threatened to threaten), this is going to get very interesting indeed.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Andres Iniesta Has Game's First Shot

After that bright spell of Real Madrid pressure, it's a little bit surprising that Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta would have the first shot on target of the match, but he does. Pedro's jinking run from the right beats both Marcelo and Ricardo Carvalho, but his pass is too far behind Iniesta and the chance looks gone. Then Angel di Maria gives up possession immediately, and Iniesta is on the ball in a dangerous position, but his attempt is weak and well wide of Iker Casillas' goal. No threat there, but at least there was a shot.

Barcelona don't exactly look nervous, but they do look less confident than they're used to. They're relying on Madrid players fouling them more than being able to pass around them (and Lassana Diarra is making their job easy in that regard, to be fair) and it's clear that Real Madrid's press is having an impact on them. However, Madrid's forward players are having to drop too far back to win possession, meaning that swift counterattacks are right now very difficult for them.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Madrid Attacking Early

We're underway at the Camp Nou, with Barcelona kicking us off. It's taken all of twenty seconds for Marcelo to foul Pedro, to absolutely nobody's surprise, and to everyone's surprise Real Madrid take that ball off Barcelona inside the first minute, with Lassana Diarra coming in to rob David Villa and Xavi then feeding the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo's run is superb and releases Marcelo to the left. The fullback's play is relatively poor, however, and he can't get a cross in. Opportunity lost, but a very positive start.

Madrid are much higher up the pitch than they were in the first leg - it's necessary with them already in a 2-0 hole, but that bodes for a more interesting, open match, and is more than welcome. Barcelona seem a little bit shaken by being pressed so hard so early, and are giving their guests the ball with some uncharacteristically bad passing. Meanwhile, Ronaldo is looking well up for this one.

This is the fourth of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th, 20th and 27th matches here, here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on May 3 in this story stream.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Barcelona Lineup

Pep Guardiola slides Andres Iniesta into the midfield as the World Cup winner makes his return from injury, dropping Seydou Keita for the bench. It's the expected shape - there was no need for the Barcelona manager to change anything else after what had been a highly successful affair for the Catalans in the first leg of this Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid. They're winning 2-0 on aggregate, and it looks like it will take something catastrophic to knock them off their perch.

So, we're getting the standard 4-3-3, with Carles Puyol filling in at left back in the continued absence of most players capable of playing there. There's some good news for the defence, however: Eric Abidal is back on the team after being sidelined for months with a liver tumour and could feature later on in the match.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Victor Valdes; Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves; Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta; David Villa, Lionel Messi, Pedro.

Substitutes: Seydou Keita, Eric Abidal, Ibrahim Afellay, Jeffren Suarez, Olazabal, Thiago, Fontas.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Madrid Lineup

Real Madrid's starting eleven for the season's final battle against Barcelona comes with few surprises on the defensive end. Suspensions have forced Jose Mourinho's hand here - neither Pepe nor Sergio Ramos were available to him, leading him to a standard 4-2-3-1 shape featuring Xabi Alonso and Lassana Diarra (Sami Khedia is injured) as the holding players with a standard four-man back line consisting of Marcelo, Raul Albiol, Ricardo Carvalho, and Alvaro Arbelo.

And then things get interesting. Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain are handed starts in what looks like it could be a huge roll of the dice by Mourinho. It makes sense to include both of them - after all, the previous attacking plans hadn't worked, but there's the very real possibility that neither of them is anything like effective today. Kaka will, at least, be flanked by Angel di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo. It'll be very interesting to see how he handles Sergio Busquets in the centre of midfield.

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Iker Casillas; Marcelo, Raul Albiol, Ricardo Carvalho, Alvaro Arbeloa; Xabi Alonso, Lassana Diarra; Angel di Maria, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo; Gonzalo Higuain.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Pierluigi Collina Dispatched To Monitor Match

UEFA are so concerned with the upcoming match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou that they've dispatched Pierluigi Collina to oversee the match. Collina, now retired, is widely regarded as the finest referee in recent history, and he'll be keeping a close eye on proceedings in what's sure to be an extremely contentious game.

Barcelona, of course, hold a 2-0 aggregate lead over Real Madrid, but their behaviour at the Santiago Bernabeu has been widely condemned. and although UEFA laughed off a formal protest by Jose Mourinho's side regarding the performance of referee Wolfgang Stark, they're sending their best match officials to oversee the tie. Unfortunately for Mourinho and company, that means that Dutch referee Frank de Bleeckere, who was conned by Sergio Busquets last year into dismissing Inter Milan midfielder Thiago Motta at the Camp Nou and thus found himself on the Special One's refereeing 'blacklist'.

Collina's appointment is designed to at least provide some outside authority to the whole affair, although I can't imagine it will change the behaviour of the players on the field. Real Madrid will still be overly physical, Barcelona will continue to embarrass themselves by diving around like a bunch of small seizure-prone children. Maybe there'll so some consequences to the gamesmanship on both sides of the aisle now - although I wouldn't bet on that.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 Champions League Semifinal: Eric Abidal, Andres Iniesta Pronounced Fit

Barcelona defender Eric Abidal was pronounced fully fit ahead of tonight's Champions League semifinal clash with Real Madrid. Abidal returns less than two months after having surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. Pep Guardiola does not expect Abidal to play, saying he's lost weight and needs time to work back in to match fitness, but the return of the French defender is a boost to a team suffering from a rash of injuries to it's defense.

Midfielder Andres Iniesta was declared fit as well after he missed last week's first leg match with a calf strain. Iniesta hasn't played since Barca's 2-0 home victory over Osasuna on April 23rd.

Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has included Cristiano Ronaldo in his squad for tonight's match after leaving the Portuguese midfielder out for Madrid's loss over the weekend to Real Zaragoza. Mourinho will be without Fernando Gago and Sami Khedira who are injured, along with Sergio Ramos (yellow card accumulation and Pepe (red card) who are both suspended for this match.

Barcelona Squad: Valdes, Oier; Abidal, Puyol, Alves, Pique, Bartra, Fontas; Mascherano, Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Thiago, Iniesta, Xavi, Keita, Afellay; Messi, Villa, Pedro, Jeffren.

Real Madrid Squad: Casillas, Dudek, Adan; Carvalho, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Albiol, Garay, Nacho; Granero, Lass, Kaka, Alonso, Di Maria, Ozil; Adebayor, Higuaín, Ronaldo, Benzema.

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Jose Mourinho, 'The Special One,' Is The Citizen Kane For A New Era

With an intellect, an ego and a mouth that dwarfs that of his peers, Jose Mourinho is football's version of Charles Foster Kane.

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Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League: TV Schedule

Barcelona host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal battle, one in which Barcelona hold all the cards following their contentious 2-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu last week. Defending a two goal lead at home (along with being the better side, of course), make the Catalans huge favourites to advance to the final at Wembley, but it's entirely possible that history will be made at the Camp Nou with a Madrid miracle, and the match is worth watching just for the chance to see that happen.

  • If you're in the UK, the game will be televised on Sky Sports 2 starting from 7:30 PM GMT on Tuesday May 3rd.
  • US viewers will get the match on Fox Soccer Channel, with coverage starting at 2:30 PM EST (11:30 AM PST)

And, of course, if you can't follow along live we'll be covering the match on SB Nation soccer. Feel more than welcome to join us as we find out just how far Jose Mourinho's magic dust can take a struggling Real Madrid side.

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Preview: Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal

With Barcelona winning the first leg of their Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, this match could be something of a dead fixture. It's hard to see Real winning at the Camp Nou by two goals, so one has to imagine that Pep Guardiola's side have a place locked up in the final at Wembley already. So, why watch this game?

Simple. Revenge. Madrid are fuming over the red card issued to midfielder Pepe in the second half of what was then a 0-0 draw as well as some rather pathetic behaviour by several Barcelona players in faking head injuries, and manager Jose Mourinho has fanned the flames by insisting that there is some sort of conspiracy for Barcelona to win everything, possibly related to Unicef.

While Mourinho's delusions are a little bizarre, they're about all that's keeping Tuesday's game interesting. Unless Real Madrid can somehow sneak an early goal whilst simultaneously keeping Barcelona off the scoresheet away from home with several key players and the manager suspended, the match will essentially involve Real Madrid charging about angrily while Barcelona fake injuries. So it'll be like last week's match with more real violence then. Yuck.

Injuries and Suspensions

For Real Madrid, the defence is a shambles thanks to suspension. Pepe is suspended following the straight red card issued for his challenge on fullback Dani Alves, and Sergio Ramos foolishly picked up a yellow card for a second-half foul on Lionel Messi. They're bolstered a little by the return of Ricardo Carvalho, who returns from a yellow card suspension of his own, but that will only make up for the absence of Ramos.Sami Khedira is not expected to be fit for the game, with Lassana Diarra again taking his place in the midfield.

Barcelona, on the other hand, are basically unchanged from the last leg, despite suffering major injuries to defenders Martin Montoya and Gabriel Milito last weekend. However, that shouldn't change the lineup that they deployed to great effect in Madrid, which featured captain Carles Puyol as a left back and a centre back pairing of Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique. They should have Andres Iniesta back from injury, but may not risk him in a game that's by and large already won.

Tactics

Will we see an all-out attack from Jose Mourinho's side? Well, I suppose we'll have to. They don't have much choice if they want to get to the final, and with Pepe gone we'll presumably see a 4-2-3-1 from Real with Angel di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo flanking a central striker. Although Emmanuel Adebayor was used for his holdup play in the second half of the reverse fixture, Mourinho might do well to consider more penetrative options such as the fit-again Gonzalo Higuain or Karim Benzema.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola presumably won't change a thing. I mean, why would he?

Key Matchup

Angel di Maria vs. Dani Alves is probably the most interesting one on one battle, because it's the most obvious route into the Barcelona defence. Alves has a bad habit of pushing far too high up the pitch when his side are in possession, and if di Maria is on his game he can exploit the space left behind by the marauding right back. Pep Guardiola would do well to curtain Alves' instincts here, because they could easily result in an early goal for the visitors.

Recent Form

Although both teams lost over the weekend, it's hard to read much into the defeats. The La Liga title has been won by Barcelona (more or less) and there were bigger fish to fry. So far in the four Clasicos this year, Madrid have been outscored by a combined total of 8-2 in 390 minutes of play, and coming off a 2-0 loss to Barcelona at home isn't exactly going to give them oodles of confidence.

Time

7:45 PM GMT (2:45 PM EST), Tuesday May 3rd.

Projected Lineups

Barcelona (4-3-3): Victor Valdes; Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves; Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta; David Villa, Lionel Messi, Pedro.

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Iker Casillas; Marcelo, Raul Albiol, Ricardo Carvalho, Alvaro Arbeloa; Xabi Alonso, Lassana Diarra; Angel di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo; Gonzalo Higuain.

Pick

I don't think anyone really believes that Madrid actually have a chance of advancing. Unless a miracle happens, Barcelona will advance, and the reason we call them miracles is because they never happen. Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid; Barcelona win 4-1 on aggregate.

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