Raphael Varane scored a late equaliser on his ‘El Classico’ debut to save Real Madrid from a 1-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Copa del Ray.
Barcelona took the lead after 50 minutes thanks to Cesc Fabregas, following a woeful clearance from Jose Callejon.
The first half saw both sides come close to taking the lead, but ultimately the chances were wasted. Barcelona, who lead La Liga with a 15 point gap other Madrid in 3rd, will now go into the 2nd leg at the Nou Camp with an away goal.
However, the story to come out of the game was the performance of French centre-back Varane.
The 19 year old has been an almost forced upon selection in recent times following injuries which broke up the Sergios Ramos and Pepe partneship. But Varane looked a comfortable and impressive alternative for the Galaticos tonight. It was a solid and concentrated performance which looked more reminiscent of the before mentioned, than a young upcoming new talent. He sealed off his near dream debut with an 81st minute header from an Mesut Ozil cross, to keep Madrid’s cup hopes alive.
The only surprise surrounding such a performance is that he appears to be progressing so quickly this early in his career. But now Madrid supporters, and Mourinho may have less fears when their main men are ruled out.
It has been a disappointing season so far for the 2012 La Liga champions; having effectively given up on retaining that title, whilst handling constant off the pitch battles.
Jose Mourinho has stated that his side must now focus on the Copa del Ray and the Champions League – the latter would somehow restore the quickly fading respect from Madrid fans for ‘The Special One’. But the truth is, that is an incredibly hard feat to pull off, with Manchester United the next hurdle in late February and early March. Mourinho appears to be fighting certain members of the dressing room, board and his own fans this season, and it is becoming an apparent distraction. It is now strongly believed that he feels is unable to continue at the club next year, with the divisions at the club becoming so deep. It wouldn’t be unexpected, with Mourinho’s managerial career having included 4 clubs with 2-3 year spells.
Tonight however, was a win wasted in the first half, and a loss saved in the second.
By Stowe Gregory
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