Barcelona beaten 2 - 1 by Real Madrid in remarkable El Clásico comeback
Real Madrid executed a remarkable turnaround at Camp Nou overcoming a Barcelona lead to win the game 2-1; Piqué's header cancelled out by Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo strikes.
"Pathetic". "Embarrassing". "If I'd paid four grand for a ticket to this I'd be looking for a complaints form.." That was just some of the reaction at half-time as Zidane was pelted with metaphorical tomatoes on social media for an overly defensive first-half display.
Madrid have been embarrassing. Incapable of holding onto ball or launching any meaningful attacks.— Richard Martin (@rich9908) 2 April 2016
"We're up all night to get lucky..." was the theme of the discussion in AS Towers when in minute 50 the office was engaged in a raging debate over whether Daft Punk's hit 'Get Lucky' is a straight-up feel-good get-down dance-floor classic or a two-bit pilfering of a 70's riff that wasn't any good the first time 'round.
This was probably the most interesting thing that happened in the first 56 minutes:
Suárez booked for letting his elbow meander in the proximity of Pepe's face. Pepe down as if his skull's been crushed.— AS English (@English_AS) 2 April 2016
That was the minute when Piqué lit the fuse, rising imperiously to power home from a corner after he lost the ephemeral attention of Pepe. That was minute 56. Barcelona looked like they had broken Real Madrid's stranglehold, one that even enlisted huge defensive performances from the entire BBC; spaces began appearing and the Catalans were moving in for the kill.
Until, that is, Kroos' cross flicked up off Jordi Alba's heel, Benzema watched it drop over Piqué's head and timed a brilliant overhead kick that once again underlined his importance as los blancos' natural-born finisher.
The game suddenly became a shoot-out, Ronaldo blocked at one end, Suarez firing inches wide at the other, when suddenly Gareth Bale rose above Jordi Alba to score a perfectly good goal, but had it disallowed for no good reason than the referees feeling sorry for Jordi Alba's shortness:
Bale goal ruled out for er Alba being smaller and weaker than him?— AS English (@English_AS) 2 April 2016
Worse still for Zidane, Sergio Ramos was sent off for a challenge on Suarez, Real Madrid were down to ten, but 2 minutes later Ronaldo took down Bale's right-footed cross on his chest and buried it through Bravo's legs: Boom. Ronaldo's 10th goal in 9 visits to Camp Nou secured a sweet victory and ended Barça's unbeaten run 40 matches later.
Zidane got his tactics spot-on, keeping it tight for as long as possible until it came down to a straight shoot-out; we saw an unusual weakness from Barcelona that perhaps we haven't seen before, a drop in intensity, a sudden lack of belief, or that sense of the inevitable that they always seem to have, an uncommon inability to find a way to win.
The night belonged to Zidane and his team, who played to his tune and turned a deficit into a very improbable victory; one that may inspire something from a season that promised nothing.
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