The match ended with 4 goals, 8 yellow cards, one red card and many controversies. Quite explosive for an El Clasico without bets.
El Clásico has always been one of the most anticipated football matches between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the biggest football clubs on the planet. The clash is not just limited to the contrasting football styles of the clubs, as it is also considered a clash between Spain and Catalonia. With so much importance attached to the match, it has always lived up to the expectations of football fans. Emotions run high on the pitch as tempers flare and controversies and fights erupt. This Sunday’s Clasico had been described as a wet affair even before it started, as Barcelona had already won the league while Real Madrid were cautious in preparing for the Champions League final. The fact that this was Iniesta’s last Clasico was the only reason most fans were looking forward to the football match. There were others who recalled the fact that Barcelona had gone unbeaten during the league and cup season so far and a loss would mean they could not go through the entire season unbeaten.
But all that wet talk about El Clasico turned to dust when Barcelona took an early lead through Luis Suarez, who connected perfectly off a cross from Sergio Roberto. Real Madrid soon leveled when Cristiano Ronaldo connected with a headed pass from Benzema that was set up by Toni Kroos. Both teams continued to threaten each other’s goals while creating chances left and right. Ronaldo also suffered an injury that left him limping for the rest of the half. At the end of the 40th minute, two Real Madrid defenders saw the yellow card, as did Messi and Saura from Barcelona. But the real controversy started when the referee failed to notice Gareth Bale’s horrific tackle on Samuel Umtiti which should have earned him a straight red card.
Things soon started to heat up as halftime approached. A Real Madrid attack down the left wing led to a clash between Marcelo and Sergio Roberto. The latter lost his cool and threw his fist at Marcelo’s face. The referee was clear about this clash and showed Roberto a direct red card right at the break. This meant that Barcelona had to play the entire second half, one man down.
While Barcelona was left with 10 men, Real Madrid had to replace Ronaldo due to his injury in the first half which caused inflammation in his ankle. Real Madrid dominated the half goal without being able to create many chances. Barcelona took the lead again when Messi scored from a pass from Suarez. There was a fierce protest from the Real Madrid players as Saura had fouled Varane on the way to the goal, but he got away with it. Real Madrid struggled to find an equalizer against a 10-man Barcelona side and it was Gareth Bale who turned it around in the 72nd minute to level the score.
Barcelona continued to attack when a great effort from Lionel Messi was beautifully stopped by Navas. Messi once again came close to scoring when a curling shot from him ended just off the post. Real Madrid were also beginning to take advantage of the 10-man Barcelona. Marcelo was brought down inside the Barcelona area, but the referee reissued a controversial penalty that prevented Real Madrid from taking a clear penalty. Barcelona, having given a clear lifeline, continued to resist all advances from Real Madrid and cling to life. Nelson Semedo brought on Coutinho to take Roberto’s place in defence, impressed by his speed and stamina. Finally, Semedo cleared the ball with a header when the referee blew the final whistle.
Andrés Iniesta’s latest El Clásico had come to life from the start and lived up to expectations. There was applause everywhere as the Master made his last bow.
Despite all the controversies and bad refereeing decisions, everyone was satisfied with the result. Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde later exclaimed that it would have hurt if Real Madrid had broken their unbeaten run, so a draw was a fair and acceptable result. As they say, even a tie means undefeated. Everyone who watched Sunday’s Clásico will agree that the players took to the field as if everything was on the line, contrary to the belief that there was nothing.