Barcelona send Real Madrid tumbling into the abyss

Another match without a goal from Real Madrid, their 10th of the season. That could pretty much be the summary of the game, won by a solitary goal from Rakitic, with an excellent final touch after a good ball from Sergi Roberto, taking full advantage of some confusion between Sergio Ramos and Varane, which isn’t the first time that’s happened. The result widens the gap between Barça and Madrid to 12 points, an unassailable lead, if it wasn’t already. Maybe Atlético Madrid could still catch Barcelona, but Madrid are no longer in the race. And what’s even worse is having lost two games in a row to Barça in the Bernabéu. Two games that cost two titles.

And this current Barça side isn’t outstanding. Messi had a good first half, but did little in the second. Sergi Robeto was excellent up against Vinicius. The centre-backs Piqué and Lenglet were imposing. But the rest of the team at the moment gets by on habit and working together. But then Real Madrid offer very little. They have the youthful insistence of Reguilón and Vinicius on the left, Modric’s control, and very little else. A lot of players are off the pace, and some seem less than interested. Among the first: Casemiro and Asensio. The ones who don’t care much, or at least give the feeling they don’t, include Kroos, Bale and Marcelo, who was once again absent yesterday.

Bale started. Here we could use the one from that theatre critic who headlined his piece on a new work from a playwright whose name I’ve forgotten thus: “Whatshisname launched his new play last night. What was the point?” Exactly. Bale was back in the starting line-up against Barça. What was the point? He had to go off on the hour after another display of lazy uselessness. And Kroos got away without being subbed when he should have been - he’s ever more idle with each game. Isco came back to the acclamation of the fans, but did nothing. Madrid right now is a sad, dispirited side, with everything now focused on the Champions League once again, and looking fearfully at Ajax.