Catalonia: Football fans all over the world usually say that El- Classico is the biggest club match in the world and with good reason. No other derby matches or rival matches compare to the electric feel when Real Madrid face Barcelona. You can be a die-hard supporter of any privileged club but during El- Classico the world is divided down the middle with supporters on two ends. Yesterday night was no different. Barcelona has already clinched this season’s La Liga and Real Madrid has their eyes firmly set on achieving a historic hat trick of UCL. Warming up to the match many believed that the match would be boring and dull as both sets of players have nothing to fight for; no silverware, no trophy; but when eternal rivals clash, you can expect fireworks.
The match started off with both managers sending their best possible 11 into the pitch and after some testing out the conditions and feelings for the ball, first blood was struck when Sergio Roberto exploited the space left by an advancing Marcelo to cross a ball right into the path of Suarez who volleyed it from the back post in the 10th minute. Madrid responded in kind when a Kroos cross was met with Benzema’s head and placed into a speedy Ronaldo who equalized in the 14th minute. We did not get to see Ronaldo’s iconic celebration as he felt a discomfort in his leg during the clash with Pique during the goal scoring moment. The match went on beautifully as no one could predict who would score next but everyone was sure that one mistake would indeed result in one. Call it commentator’s curse, as just as they were praising the sportsmanship of the players we saw Alba and Modric squaring up with each other. Replays showed that Alba had his hand around Modric’s neck and should feel lucky to have stayed in the pitch and moments later luck showered on Bale as his reckless tackle on Umtiti that should have been a card was allowed to walk away with just a warning. Drama unfolded in tons towards the end of the first half when Suarez and Ramos had a push and tug and Suarez complaining about how the Madrid captain elbowed him and the referee gave both men a yellow card for their on-field actions. The first ball Ramos touched after this incident saw a fiery Messi tackle the Spaniard and earning himself a yellow card but pressing the point of ‘do not touch my friend’. Marcelo saw how the match was progressing and decided to collide against an inexperienced Roberto as if by mistake while running and the right back swung a fist at the Brazilian’s way which the referee picked up a gave a straight red at the 45th minute.
A man down in the classico is not a surprising sight but this means that the Catalan Giants had to withstand 45 of onslaught from the opposition and to secure their unbeaten run in the campaign. Madrid substituted the current Balon D’Or winner Ronaldo for Asensio to make sure he will be match fit for the UEFA finals. The Los Blancos got a little carried away following their one man advantage which was punished in the 52nd minute by Messi who swung the ball back into the net leaving no chance for Navas at goal. The build up to the goal was itself a controversy as Suarez had blatantly fouled Varane while redeeming the ball back. After the goal Madrid seemed a little started and it seemed like it was Barcelona who had an extra man but once the midfield trio of Modric, Kroos and Casemiro took control, the Spanish giants found their tempo and netted in the equalizer at the 72nd minute when Bale mimicked Messi’s goal but with a bit more power and bit further. Real were hoping they use their one man advantage and end Barcelona’s unbeaten streak in La Liga but the resilient defense of the Catalans held through with Messi having two back to back chances in the 82nd minute. Tempers flared again as Suarez was faking an injury at the 87th minute following a clash with Ramos but the Madrid players did not want to throw the ball away and for a short while it was 9 against 11 on the pitch until Paulinho blasted the ball out of playing area and screamed in the ears of Lucas who by the laws of the game has no need to place the ball out.
The final whistle blew with scores level at the night and Iniesta having played his final Classico to a draw. The ones who stayed on the pitch at the end of the 90 minutes greeted and respected one another to show the world the true beauty of football.