Inside a Camp Nou with over 90,000 fans & to over 400 million viewers world wide, the always crucial Clásico did not disappoint. In what was an extremely competive and contested match, FC Barcelona came out with a 2-1 win over arch rivals Real Madrid to extend their lead at the top of the La Liga Table. Here are some of the take aways we can draw from the match.
1- Defense for both sides is what ultimately decided who took the 3 points.
The defense of both sides was the most important part of the game. Real Madrid’s back line had many crucial errors and an overall lack of discipline. The first mistake came early in the first half, when Sergio Ramos let Jeremy Mathieu escape from his mark and connect with a Lionel Messi cross to head home and give Barça a 1-0 lead. Then in the second goal, Ramos again commited a mistake. He allowed himself to fall back behind Pepe and the rest of the defensive line to allow Suarez to not be marked offside and latch onto a deep pass from Dani Alves. Pepe then could not accurately calculate Suarez’ run, in an attempt to get a hold of the Uruguayan’s shot, which would end up to be Barcelona’s second. Aside from this, both Pepe and Ramos were booked for unnecessary fouls from behind. Carvajal was also shown yellow for a needless tackle. Towards the end of the match, referee Mateu Lahoz seemed to almost pity the Madrid defense, as more fouls were committed by the Madrid back line that easily could have been worthy of another yellow and therefore, ejection from the match.
Barcelona’s defense on the contrary was impeccable. Gerard Pique was an absolute rock, dismissing any danger that would come from Ronaldo and co with crucial and accurate tackles. Jeremy Mathieu also made important challenges, as well as providing the Catalan club’s first goal. Dani Alves kept Ronaldo quiet for grand part of the match and provided the assist for Barça’s second goal.
2- Karim Benzema & Luka Modrić are extremely influential.
Benzema & Modrić were arguably Madrid’s best players on the field. The Frenchman may not have scored, but time and time again he challenged Barcelona’s back four, and easily played through the midfield when needed. Also, he gave the assist to Ronaldo’s goal. Modrić commanded the midfield, connecting well with Madrid’s other offensive weapons, as well as making key passes such as the one to Benzema to set up the Ronaldo goal. Both players looked alive throughout the match, & were a big reason Madrid completely dominated the first half. If the two players take advantage of the international break coming up, they can continue their good form and help influence Madrid’s attack force.
3- La Liga is now Barcelona’s to lose.
The outcome of this Clasico would have a huge impact on this seasons La Liga campaign. Should Madrid have won, they could have gone ahead of Barça by 2 points. Instead, they failed to take advantage of an excellent first half and let Barcelona stay in first place, now ahead by 4 points. With 10 games left in the season, Madrid will be hoping that Barcelona can slip up and lose points, with the Blaugrana having important matches later on in La Liga with Valencia, Atletico Madrid, & Real Sociedad. However, if the Catalan club can keep their composure and not let the Clasico win get to their heads, they should be able to close the season fine & end up as champions.
4- Both sides can really challenge for the Champions League.
Of course Real Madrid and Barcelona should always be considered candidates to win the UEFA Champions League. However, this game showed each side is extremely capable to chalenge favorites Bayern Munich to the title. Real Madrid dominated the first half, while Barcelona dominated the second. Although neither team was able to produce a full 90 minutes of good play, each side showed how dangerous they are in their respective half. If the two can play at the level they did in the 45 minutes they each claimed, it will extremely hard for any of the remaining teams to beat them.
It will be interesting to see how both teams finish up the season. A lot could still happen, so we’ll have to see if either one commits errors and makes the title race go on towards the very last few games. Let us know what you think in the comments below, share with friends, & follow FortOnSports on Twitter.