“He is the best player in the history of the game,” Barcelona manager Luis Enrique hailed Lionel Messi after the Argentinian led his side to a 3-2 victory in an epic encounter against Real Madrid. The Clasico lived up to its hype. The thrilling encounter between the age old rivals saw Zinedine Zidane’s side losing at Santiago Bernabeu, with an injury time goal. The result meant the Catalans overtook Los Blancos for the top position in the table.
Apart from a tremendous performance from Messi for Barca, Real were let down by some major tactical errors in the game, which cost them dearly. If Real need anyone to blame, they only need to point fingers at themselves.
Team selection by Zidane included injured and out-of-form Gareth Bale filling the left flank up in the top row. The Welshman was clearly not at his best and kept playing wayward shots and giving the ball away to opposition. Bale also committed a defensive blunder in his own half, giving the ball to Paco Alcacer, who passed it inside the box to Luis Suarez and almost cost his side a goal. He was replaced by Marco Asensio as he went down to the ground holding his ankle soon after Messi scored the first goal of the night for Barca. Apart from Bale, leaving behind in-form Isco also proved a wrong choice for the night, especially with German midfielder Toni Kroos not being his optimal best in the game.
Indiscipline in defensive areas
Casemiro has been known for making nasty challenges in defensive areas and against Barcelona, he was no different. Just 10 minutes into the game, the central defensive midfielder took down Messi and got himself booked. The yellow card meant that he had to play a steady game, and in spite of scoring a goal, was replaced in the 70th minute by Mateo Kovacic. Kovacic, being no different, challenged Messi and got himself booked too, 10 minutes after coming on to the field. The Argentinian was already injured and was bleeding from his mouth after getting hit by Marcelo’s elbow. The worst moment of indiscipline came from the captain Sergio Ramos himself, who went flying with a two-footed challenge on Messi and got himself sent off for the fifth time in El Clasico.
Way too many missed shots
Real forward line failed to make the most of the chances created by them. Real had 22 shots in the match with 14 on target. The inconsistent display by forward Karim Benzema hurt the side, with the French forward missing out on several chances of gaining lead. Cristiano Ronaldo also had several shots on goal, including a sitter in front of Barca goalkeeper Ter Stergen in the 67th minute, but was left frustrated for the fourth consecutive time in a La Liga game. Barca on the other hand had 16 shots, with 9 on target, but manage to make the most of it when required.
With a game in hand, Real will hope to regain their lead over Blaugrana. But for now, the Cules can celebrate a victory in what will go down in history as one of the best Clasico finishes ever.