What a match! Passion, drama, chances flying in at both ends... emotion from start to finish, and then there was Messi, back in the spotlight! When Real Madrid started by taking the game by the scruff of its neck, Messi dropped deep into the geometric centre of the pitch, taking charge of Barça’s moves and lifting his team. He rans rings around Casemiro who caught him with a couple of late lunges and was lucky to see out the first half. And he scored two wonderful goals, with a cut mouth, the second of which coming just as ‘Ramos o’clock chimed’. His brace last night brings up 500 goals for Barcelona; he also forced Zidane to take Casemiro off before he was sent off – like Ramos; while Marcelo only stayed on the pitch for a miracle. He bossed a crazy, exhilerating match, one which turned out to become a homage to the beautiful game.
Messi at the fore of an exciting Clásico
Messi was the star on an unforgettable night in which the race to lift LaLiga was turned on its head. It was a tremendous roller coaster ride of a match, in which the tactics went out of the window, with chances on goal flying in thick and fast at both ends. Both keepers were fantastic – and five goals were scored in spite of their efforts. It could of gone either way. There were a few audible murmurings in the stands when Bale was taken off, his brief and feeble display was accentuated by that of the man who replaced him, Marco Asensio. The refereeing was poor, and started with a penalty which wasn’t given for an Umtiti foul on Cristiano.
El Clásico, a great advert for football
A game like last night’s encapsulated everything that we offer in football. Such a game is part of the ‘Spain Brand’. Both teams exhibited their best virtues, and ploughed every last ounce of energy into the game to the point of exhaustion. Barça needed to win to remain in the league title race. Madrid forgot that sometimes it’s better to settle for a draw, and with the score at 2-2 they continued to attack without reserve. They were caught by a whirlwind Barça counter which was initiated by one of the full-backs, and finished off with a precision shot inside the near post by Messi. It was a game in which both teams went all out to win at any cost. In the end Barça won, LaLiga won and football won while Madrid were noble losers.