Feeble Barcelona let Real Madrid dig themselves out of a hole

The first Barcelona - Real Madrid of the season loomed ominously for Real Madrid and Zidane, but by the final whistle it was Barcelona and Koeman who were left distraught by the outcome, a 3-1 defeat at home in the Clásico. Not just because they lost, but also because it was Koeman’s first chance to show what he can do on the big stage and, despite his detailed game notes, he came up empty-handed. Barcelona’s performance was reduced to a couple of decent moments from Messi (decent, until he tired), the danger of Ansu Fati (who became the second-youngest scorer in Clásicos of all time) and the occasional brilliant interventions from Jordi Alba. But the team were off the pace - De Jong offers little, Coutinho and Pedri, who started, did nothing and the defence was wobbly. The perfect rival to let Madrid off the hook.

Real Madrid did exactly what they had to at the Camp Nou

Set against that, Madrid did exactly what they had to do: one for all and all for one. The team were clearly trying to make up for their two recent disasters and the whole team worked their socks off, always one step ahead of Barça. They scored early, with a fine ball from Benzema to Valverde, which caught Piqué - who’d caused a stir before the game - napping, and Busquets too, thinking about how short life is. Barça did manage to equalise quickly, with a lightning-fast goal, started by Messi, developed by Jordi Alba and finished by Ansu Fait - Barcelona’s best three. The goal fired Barcelona up, and they enjoyed their best spell, but they didn’t manage to knock Madrid off their stride.

The better side won, VAR or not

Sadly for the game, the 1-2 came from a penalty give by way of the VAR, a new technology that is poisoning football because it’s a way of meting out justice that nobody thinks is just, because nobody knows when it’s going to make its appearance. Luckily, the game was finished off by a gem of a goal from Modric, with his fine strike reducing the impact of the penalty (the 25th in a row that Sergio Ramos has scored, which is quite the feat). The result saw an avalanche of tweets from those who would take the crown from Bartomeu as Barcelona president. Xavier Vilajoana’s was particularly out of order. But the truth is that the better side won, making up for Madrid’s recent lapses, and leaving Koeman redoing his notes.