Barcelona 1 (Sanchez 70) – Real Madrid 2 (Khedira 17, Ronaldo 73)
They are humans afterall. Real Madrid proved to world that Barcelona is human, and not an alien football team after all, as they beat the Catalans 2-1 in their own backyard to take a firm grip of the Spanish League title.
Like all its predecessors, this El Clasico did not dissapoint. A brilliant game of football. Two star-studded sides. Two legends of the modern game. A fantastic arena. What more could you ask for.
Barcelona’s team selection was a bit surprising, with young striker Christian Tello preferred to Chilean Alexis Sanchez. Also rested was Gerard Pique, as Argentina international Javier Mascherano started beside Carles Puyol in defence. Also, in the starting lineup was Thiago Alcantara. Real Madrid’s team selection was pretty straight forward, though few eyebrows were raised when Fabio Coentrao was named instead of Marcelo at left-back.
With Barcelona needing to win the game, to move to 1 point of the Madridistas, all the pressure was on the Blaugrana to take the game to the opposition. But it was infact, Real who started with a more composed game, and had the first attempt on goal, with Ronaldo’s header being tipped away by Victor Valdes. Dani Alves then was sent through, after some poor defending from Pepe, but equal to it was the alert Iker Casillas.
Christian Tello showed why he is considered the ‘next big thing’ at Barca as he beat a couple of Real defenders and forced Casillas into a save. However, moments later, it was Real who struck first. Barcelona’s susceptibility to dead ball situations was clear to see. Pepe headed towards Valdes, who made a complete hash of the situation, allowing Sami Khedira to slot in front of an open goal, with Puyol in close attention.
Lionel Messi, who had looked a bit subdued, so far, then showed his brilliance as he played a through-ball to Xavi. However, his effort was slightly deflected by Casillas. Despite some more pressure from Barca, Real were happy to go into the break leading 1-0 at the Camp Nou.
Early in the second half, Alcantara played a defence-splitting pass to Tello, however, his effort was woefully over. Xavi, who looked a bit jagerred, was soon taken off, with Sanchez coming on, 20 minutes to go. And he had instant impact, as he took full advantage of the confusion in Real’s penalty box, to slot home the equalizer.
However, all of Barca’s industry came to nothing, as 3 minutes later, a Mesut Ozil pass, was met with aplomb by Ronaldo, who fired in the winner, from an acute angle. His celebration told it all, as he asked the crowd, or rather his teammates to calm down.
Madrid defended astutely, and never allowed Barca a clear cut opportunity to score, as they held on to an important win, that sees them 7 points clear at the top, with 4 games to go.
Match Ratings (Barcelona)
Valdes (6.5) – Made a costly error, early on, and probably should have saved the second goal.
Alves (7.5) – A constant menace on the right, but not threatening enough.
Puyol (6.5) – Not his best game either.
Mascherano (6.5) – Clearly a bit short at centre-back.
Adriano (6.5) – Had a poor game, according to me Never up to the task.
Thiago (7) – He put in a good display in a largely midfield battle.
Iniesta (7.5) – Well marshalled, like the Chelsea game, by the Real midfield.
Xavi (7) – Another player who looked really tired.
Messi (8) – Tried everything he could, but Pepe marked him really well.
Tello (7) – He is still young, and needs time. A more experienced player would have put one of his shots away.
Busquets (7) – I thought he and Thiago are too similiar to play in the same midfield.
Sanchez (7) – Had an instant impact. But then, Real held on. Never used his pace to run them over.
Fabregas – Came too late to get a rating.
Match Ratings (Real Madrid)
Casillas (8) – Had a brilliant game, and pulled off some vital saves.
Coentrao (7.5) – Was caught out a couple of times, but played well.
Pepe (8) – A rock at the back. Marked Messi out of the game.
Ramos (8) – Partnered Pepe effectively.
Arbeloa (7) – Looked suspect to Tello. Luckily, Tello was equally wasteful.
Alonso (7.5) – Put in a great game, stifling Xavi and Iniesta.
Khedira (7.5) – Scored a vital goal, and helped Alonso frustrate Barca’s midfield.
Ozil (8) – Brilliant play from the German, all over.
Ronaldo (8) – His reputation of not scoring in big games was proved wrong last night.
di Maria (6) – Never really got going.
Benzema (7.5) – Caused a lot of problems to Barca’s defence with his physicality and pace.
Granero – Came too late to get a rating.
Callejon – Came too late to get a rating.
Higuain – Came too late to get a rating.
Team Ratings –
Barcelona – 7.0
Real Madrid – 7.54